In a joint letter from Dr. Carson and Mr. Trump to CNBC, which was obtained by NBC News, the two GOP hopefuls have taken issue with the proposed length of the debate, as well as the exclusion of opening and closing statements. According to the letter, CNBC is proposing “two hours of debate time” along with four commercial breaks.
The candidates write that neither “will participate in your debate if it is longer than 120 minutes including commercials and does not include opening and closing statements,” the letter said.
Trump also took to twitter on Thursday coming out against the proposed debate format, saying that the extended time is just a ploy to sell extra commercials.
Trump told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday night that he had previously “agreed to two hours” but yesterday his campaign was informed that “they want to increase it by an hour.” Trump added that increasing the debate to three hours is “unfair to the viewers because it’s too much…they are doing it because they want to make more money.”
The deputy campaign manager for fellow Republican contender Carly Fiorina tweeted that Carson and Trump don’t have the endurance to debate Fiorina for three hours.
But Trump shot that down to Van Susteren “I can for five hours. I can stand for 10 hours.”
The campaign for Republican candidate Jeb Bush released a statement saying “Jeb Bush is ready to debate the other candidates and show once again he has the best record in the entire field.”
In a statement, CNBC spokesman Brian Steel says “Our goal is to host the most substantive debate possible. Our practice in the past has been to forego opening statements to allow more time to address the critical issues that matter most to the American people. We started a dialogue yesterday with all of the campaigns involved and we will certainly take the candidates’ views on the format into consideration as we finalize the debate structure.”
Neither Trump nor Carson’s campaigns immediately responded to requests for comment.