Politics Now

Republicans set pared-down schedule for presidential primary debates

Republicans seek to limit the odds of a damaging debate rumble in 2015 and 2016

Trying to lessen the chances that a divisive primary damages its 2016 presidential nominee, the Republican National Committee announced Friday that it would hold a limited series of debates during the primary season.

Nine debates have been approved between August of this year and March 1, 2016, with the first taking place in Ohio, the party announced at its winter meeting in Coronado. The California debate will be held in September at the Ronald Reagan Library.

“By constructing and instituting a sound debate process, it will allow candidates to bring their ideas and visions to Americans in a timely and efficient way,” said RNC chairman Reince Priebus. “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.”

Any candidate or media host who participates in a debate not sanctioned by the RNC would be forbidden from taking part in any sanctioned debates.

Since the party's last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, lost two years ago, party leaders have argued that he was badly damaged during the nearly two dozen debates during the primary--some of which featured a host of challengers ganging up on the front-runner.

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