CNBC apparently doesn’t want to do opening and closing statements for the next Republican debate, but this is a must-have for a few candidates while others agree but didn’t make it an ultimatum:
POLITICO – A Republican National Committee conference call to discuss plans for the Oct. 28 GOP debate with top advisers to the presidential campaigns spiraled into chaos on Thursday afternoon, as Donald Trump threatened to pull out of the debate if his demands for the format are not met.
On the call, according to three sources who were on the line, Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, said that if the debate does not include opening or closing statements and is longer than two hours total, including commercial breaks, the real estate mogul would have to reconsider his participation.
Neither Lewandowski nor Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, responded to a request for comment.
The fiery exchange was one of many on the 29-minute call, which the RNC abruptly scheduled after several campaigns complained a day earlier about CNBC’s planned format for the Boulder debate — particularly the stipulation that candidates not be allowed to give opening and closing statements.
Two top RNC officials, Katie Walsh and Sean Spicer, began the call by telling campaigns that Chairman Reince Priebus had been in contact with CNBC over the matter of opening and closing statements and by saying his job is to advocate for the candidates and that they wanted to make sure he was clear on what their demands were. RNC officials wanted to know what the “red line” was for each individual campaign, and whether crossing that line would mean they wouldn’t attend.
Then things went south.
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.”
After Lewandowski spoke, others chimed in — including Beth Hansen, who said the conference call was a “debacle.”
Trump tweeted his dissent a few minutes ago:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2015
CNBC responded with this statement (click to zoom):