‘Just To Embarrass Our Candidates’: Strategists Question Whether Next RNC Debate Even Matters At All

Posted 27 days ago


After a second debate widely panned as “disappointing” by conservative viewers and pundits, strategists are questioning whether the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) third presidential primary debate hosted by NBC serves much of a purpose at all.

The RNC gave its first two debates to Fox News and Fox Business, the second of which was heavily criticized for not focusing on the issues Republican primary voters care about. Despite that criticism, the RNC gave its third debate on Nov. 8 to NBC, failing to meet earlier promises to prioritize up-and-coming conservative, independent media for coverage. Salem Radio Network and the Republican Jewish Coalition, a national organization that works to unite the Jewish community with Republican lawmakers, are partners for the third debate.

Viewers took particular umbrage with questions in the second debate that focused on racism and discrimination against LGBT communities, which came primarily from Univision moderator Ilia Calderón. With the decision to choose NBC as the third debate host, GOP strategists told the Daily Caller they expect the contest to be yet another letdown for Republican voters and embarrassing for candidates.

“[Kristen] Welker and Lester Holt and NBC as a whole are going to appease their base,” Sean Spicer, host of the Sean Spicer podcast and former chairman for the RNC’s Temporary Committee on Presidential Debates told the Daily Caller. “I don’t blame them for the left-wing questions. It’s the RNC that gave them the platform to do this. NBC is going to do what NBC does and Univision is going to do what Univision does. It’s not their fault that the RNC chose them to just to embarrass our candidates. It’s the RNC’s fault.”

The RNC’s current chairman of its Temporary Committee on Presidential Debates, David Bossie, promised in 2022 that under his leadership, the debates wouldn’t be hosted by the “same old” outlets and that they would instead be used to raise up conservative media. Bossie imagined during the interview the debates being hosted by conservative firebrands such as Mark Levin and Dan Bongino.

Instead, NBC’s Lester Holt and Kristen Welker will moderate debate number three alongside Salem Radio Network’s Hugh Hewitt, a longtime fixture of conservative talk radio.

“These two people [Holt and Welker] are not Republican voters. They’re not undecided voters. They’re not moderate voters. They’re not people who occasionally vote for Republicans. These are hardcore Democrat voters. They’ve been their whole life,” Mike McKenna, GOP consultant and MWR Strategies president, told the Daily Caller. “So yeah, they’re gonna look at drilling Republicans. It’s silly, it’s ridiculous. And you know what? The guy who made it silly and ridiculous, Ronna McDaniel and Dave Bossie. They’re the architects of this. You want to blame somebody? Blame those two chuckleheads.”

McKenna added that he would be “shocked” if Holt and Welker didn’t ask about “defending democracy and abortion,” noting that the topics have become main pillars of the Democratic party agenda.

We are honored and humbled to be asked to partner with @GOP for this historic and important Presidential Debate. Thank you @GOPChairwoman for your friendship and commitment to #Israel and the Jewish community. https://t.co/dzFyr7dEa1

Holt has moderated a presidential debate in the past two elections, though his 2016 performance came under fire. Throughout the debate, Holt tried to fact-check former President Donald Trump. Trump pushed back on Holt’s line of questioning during the debate, criticizing the NBC host for not asking a single question about Hillary Clinton’s missing emails or her role in the Benghazi Embassy attack.... (Read more)

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