The Republican National Committee voted unanimously on Thursday not to have their presidential candidate participate in debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) in 2024.

In fact, the RNC will require all candidates running for president to sign a pledge promising not to participate in any debates sponsored by the CPD.

Wall Street Journal:

The resolution passed by the committee gathered in Tennessee reads, in part: “Any presidential primary candidate who does not agree in writing, or who participates in any debate that is not a sanctioned debate, shall not be eligible to participate in any further sanctioned debates.”

The RNC plans to form a working group to sanction debates based on input from presidential campaigns and criteria that may include timing, frequency, format, media outlet, candidate qualifications and the “best interest of the Republican Party.”

That sounds pretty final. But even Republicans can’t be that stupid.

The Sept. 29, 2020 debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump drew 73.1 million viewers who tuned in on TV networks. Many millions more watched a live stream broadcast or heard it on the radio. The all-time record for debate TV viewership was in 2016 when 84 million people watched Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Any political party that deliberately refuses the opportunity to make their case in front of so many people deserves to lose — no matter how biased, how maddening, how ignorant the moderators and the CPD are.

That’s the hill that Republicans are willing to die on?

The Hill:

“Debates are an important part of the democratic process, and the RNC is committed to free and fair debates,” she said. “The Commission on Presidential Debates is biased and has refused to enact simple and commonsense reforms to help ensure fair debates including hosting debates before voting begins and selecting moderators who have never worked for candidates on the debate stage.”

Thursday’s vote makes good on a threat that the RNC has been holding over the CPD for months. In another escalatory step, the RNC warned the commission last month against fundraising off the idea that the next GOP nominee will participate in the 2024 debates.

There are legitimate issues with the timing of debates. Holding a debate after a fifth of the electorate has voted is absurd. And Republicans will have to make sure that doesn’t happen in 2024.

But the timing of when the debates occur is negotiable — even with the dinosaurs at the CPD who probably wear powdered wigs to work every day. Even they have to realize the new realities of mail-in ballots and early voting.

Should Trump mount another bid for the White House in 2024 and secure the GOP nomination, the RNC rule change virtually guarantees that he won’t participate in the traditional debate calendar.

Of course, if Republicans tap someone else for the nomination, the party could always change its rules again, and the eventual nominee will likely have the ultimate say on whether to participate.

The rule change doesn’t “virtually guarantee” anything. The Commission is not going to freeze out a GOP candidate or the entire reason for their existence is lost.

There will be a debate or several debates in 2024. It will be sponsored by the CPD. The moderators will be biased, left-wing partisans. The RNC will negotiate more acceptable terms.

And the Republican candidate will be there with bells on, because not being there is not an option.

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