RNC moves to stop sponsoring primary debates at the national level

The RNC held its fourth 2024 presidential primary debate on Wednesday.

December 8, 2023, 4:07 PM
Road to '24
ABC News Photo Illustration / Alex Gilbeaux

The Republican National Committee on Friday afternoon said it would pause participation in further Republican presidential primary debates, effectively leaving decisions around future debates up to media organizations and the 2024 Republican presidential candidates themselves.

"We have held four successful debates across the country with the most conservative partners in the history of a Republican primary," the Republican National Committee (RNC)'s Committee on Presidential Debates said in a statement. "We have no RNC debates scheduled in January and any debates currently scheduled are not affiliated with the RNC."

"It is now time for Republican primary voters to decide who will be our next President and candidates are free to use any forum or format to communicate to voters as they see fit," the committee said.

The RNC's announcement about future debates comes a day after ABC News, partnering with ABC affiliate station WMUR-TV, announced it will host a Republican presidential primary debate in New Hampshire next month, just days ahead of its first-in-the-nation GOP primary election.

Held in coordination with the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, the debate will take place at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, Jan. 18.

That debate is sanctioned by New Hampshire's Republican Party, its chairman confirmed Friday.

"The only NH Presidential debate sanctioned by the NHGOP is the ABC/WMUR/ Saint Anselm College debate on January 18, 2024. Looking forward to sharing more details in the following days," Chris Ager, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, wrote on social media on Friday.

CNN announced on Thursday that it will host GOP presidential debates in January in Iowa and New Hampshire, although the New Hampshire debate was not coordinated with the state party.

During the RNC's fourth and seemingly final Republican presidential primary debate, held on Wednesday, four Republican presidential candidates took the stage in Alabama for one last chance to trade attacks and stake out policy positions before voting starts in the 2024 primary, in Iowa and New Hampshire, next month.

The debate, the smallest yet, featured former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former President Donald Trump, who is polling the highest among Republican voters, declined to participate in any debates during the 2024 cycle.

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