How Ben Carson Would Change Republican Presidential Debates
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(WASHINGTON) — Staff members from the Republican presidential campaigns are meeting in Washington, D.C., Sunday, hoping to come up with a list of changes for the party’s remaining primary debates.
Frontrunner Ben Carson’s camp organized the summit. The retired neurosurgeon came out swinging following Wednesday’s debate in Colorado, saying it “so clearly demonstrated a need for change in format,” criticizing the CNBC moderators for what he called their “gotcha questions” and immaturity.
During an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Carson laid out the kinds of changes he hopes to see in future debates.
“I would like to see us be able to have a substantial opening statement, at least a minute, a substantial closing statement, at least a minute, and I would like to see tighter guidelines in terms of people when they respond to questions,” Carson said. “Some people pretty much ignore the time constraints, while others are very careful to stay within them and I think that creates inequality.”
Carson said he would also like to see fewer debates.
“I certainly don’t think we need more than one a month,” he said.
Reiterating his dissatisfaction with Wednesday’s moderators, Carson mocked the nature of the questions, slamming their lack of seriousness and calling for immediate solutions.
“As far as I’m concerned, these debates are to highlight the differences in philosophy between the candidates, particularly when you have as many candidates as we have now. The people have to be able to find out what is the thing that distinguishes each one of us,” he said. “You know, you can spend forever combing back through somebody’s history saying ‘1942 didn’t you say…’ Come on give me a break, we need to mature in the way that we do these debates if they’re going to be useful to the American people.”
Despite his demands, Carson’s campaign insisted that Sunday’s meeting is about having an open conversation and throwing ideas on the table to discuss with the other campaigns.
“We’re not advocating for anything yet,” Carson’s communications director Doug Watts told ABC News. “We want to hear what everyone has to say.”
The battle is not new for Carson. In May, he issued a letter to the Republican National Committee urging it to be more inclusive in its polling criteria for determining which candidates make it on the main debate stage.
“The rules may be good for me personally, but they are not good for the process,” he wrote. “Surely we can find a format that allows every voice to be heard.”
For Carson’s debate wish list to move forward, all campaigns would have to agree to the same demands. Asked if debate changes could be implemented, a senior aide with one of the campaigns said, “I doubt it. All the campaigns would have to agree and we’re a long way from that happening.”
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