We’re still nearly two weeks from the third Republican presidential debate, and everyone is already acting crazy. Leading the way, as usual, is Donald Trump, who has threatened to boycott the October 28 event.
On Thursday, RNC officials and representatives from all of the GOP campaigns had a conference call to discuss CNBC’s planned debate format, which does not currently include opening and closing statements or a time limit. According to Politico, everyone was unhappy about the lack of statements, though some expressed their displeasure more colorfully than others:
First, Jason Miller, a top strategist for Ted Cruz, said his campaign would consider bailing if there weren’t openings and closings. Then, Chris LaCivita, an aide to Rand Paul, chimed in: “If we don’t have opening and closing statements, CNBC can go f— themselves.”
But Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, seems to have been the most forceful, saying that the wispy-headed diva would “reconsider his participation” in the debate unless CNBC promised statements and a time limit of two hours. He later clarified his position to the New York Times:
Mr. Lewandowski, in an interview, said: “The criteria that was outlined by CNBC was never discussed with any of the candidates or the campaigns. So what CNBC did was send out a memo and said, ‘Here’s the criteria as you have approved them and that went out to all the campaigns. We said we never agreed to this criteria.’”
“For us it was imperative that the time be changed to 120 minutes” for the length of the debate, he said. Mr. Trump had been unhappy with the nearly three-hour length of the CNN debate that Republicans recently took part in.
“Until we have this criteria specifically laid out,” he added, “it is difficult to participate.”
If CNBC doesn’t cave to those demands, then we’ll find out what the other candidates value more: the opportunity to talk about whatever they want for a minute or two, or the sight of a Trump-free stage.