When the campaigns were notified of the debate limits, there was some immediate and forceful backlash. Trump tweeted that CNBC was “pushing the [GOP] around by asking for extra time” and that they should only agree to it if it benefited the party. Both the Carson and Trump campaigns came together in a letter to protest the limitations.
They replied by saying that they would boycott the CNBC debate unless there was an opening and closing statement and the debate ran 120 minutes with the four commercials. This would leave each candidate with less than ten minutes of screen time if distributed equally. Looks like these candidates are getting a little tired, and they’re looking for time to propagate their platforms with fewer interruptions and more applause lines.
CNBC spokesman Brian Steel responded to the GOP candidates: “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.”
Another candidate who would be participating in the CNBC debate, Carly Fiorina, seemed unfazed by debate plan saying, “You know, prepared statements are what politicians do. … So, honestly, here are two outsiders supposedly. Donald Trump and Ben Carson — they sound a lot like politicians tonight to me.”
Early this morning, CNBC agreed to acquiesce in light of the complaints. The self proclaimed “problem solver” tweeted out again in celebration:
.@CNBC has just agreed that the debate will be TWO HOURS. Fantastic news for all, especially the millions of people who will be watching!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2015
But were attaining these changes really worth the boycott threats? Debate watchers will find out in two weeks.
Carolina Baker works for American Principles in Action.