RNC Announces Nine Presidential Debates

RNC Announces Nine Presidential Debates
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The Republican National Committee has sanctioned nine primary debates this cycle, beginning this August in Ohio and extending through February 2016.

The number of official debates for this election season is more than half the number in 2012, when the plethora of televised forums resulted in embarrassments for the contenders and for the party. The committee has been working for months to edit and order the schedule and avoid what chairman Reince Priebus called “a dog and pony show.”

Under the new rules, no state can hold more than one debate. Ohio, where Republicans will host their convention in July 2016, will have the first bite at the apple with a debate sponsored by Fox News. The network will host two forums (Fox Business will host one as well), with an additional pending. CNN will host two debates (one more is pending), ABC and CBS will have one each, and NBC/Telemundo and CNBC will each host a debate.

In assessing the number of debates that will shape the GOP field, the RNC aimed to include a larger conservative media presence. In addition to the nine scheduled, the committee is leaving room for three more in March, including one to be held by a conservative media outlet.

In addition to Ohio, debates will be held in California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

With as many as two dozen Republicans talking about running for president, the new debate schedule will provide the party with a more efficient, timely and organized debate process, the chairman said. “This schedule ensures we will have a robust discussion among our candidates while also allowing the candidates to focus their time engaging with Republican voters,” Preibus said in announcing the schedule.

The RNC is holding its winter meeting this week San Diego, where possible candidates Scott Walker, Ben Carson and Mitt Romney are keynote speakers. The RNC also announced this week that the nominating convention would begin on July 18, a month earlier than previous years, allowing the nominee greater access to general election campaign funds. 

Full list of RNC-sanctioned debates:

August 2015, Ohio (Fox News)

September 2015, California (CNN)

October 2015, Colorado (CNBC)

November 2015, Wisconsin (Fox Business)

December 2015, Nevada (CNN)

January 2016, Iowa (Fox News)

February 2016, New Hampshire (ABC News)

February 2016, South Carolina (CBS News)

February 2016, Florida (NBC/Telemundo)

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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