Republican Candidates Demand Opening and Closing Statements at Next Debate

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From Alex Isenstadt’s Politico account of a leaked RNC conference call that ended in chaos:

Ken McKay, Chris Christie’s campaign manager, expressed worry about stating his position on an open conference call line, saying that it could expose his campaign to leaks.

I would expect the Christie campaign to understand the need for operational secrecy pretty well, and sure enough, they were apparently the only ones to think about this. And they were right: the entire conversation was immediately leaked.

But here’s the best part: the chaos was over the pressing question of whether candidates would be allowed to give opening and closing statements at the next Republican debate. Seriously. CNBC wants to ditch them, for obvious reasons I think. But the candidates are fuming over this brazen display of disrespect toward their God-given right to give mini-stump speeches on national TV. Rand Paul’s representative put it the most pungently: “If we don’t have opening and closing statements, CNBC can go fuck themselves.”

Trump and Carson later sent a letter to CNBC promising to boycott the debate unless opening and closing statements were allowed.1 The others didn’t go that far, but in a display of their shaky grasp of what the TV-watching public wants, they did all agree on the crucial need for the viewing audience to hear 30 minutes of tedious speechifying from their own silver tongues. However, that doesn’t mean there was a completely united front on this issue:

Christian Ferry, a representative for Lindsey Graham, who’s been relegated to undercard debates, chimed in. If any of the top-polling candidates didn’t want to participate in the Colorado debate, Graham would gladly take their place.

Atta boy, Lindsey!

1They also want assurances that the debate won’t go longer than two hours. This just goes to show that Trump and Carson can occasionally be right about something.

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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