Will Reince Priebus exclude Ron Paul and Gary Johnson from the 2012 RNC debates?
Despite the fact that no candidates have formally announced for President, we know that campaign season is upon us because the usual suspects are working to find a way to exclude new ideas from the Presidential debates.
Presidential debates in our country have often been exclusionary, especially since the formation of the Commission on Presidential Debates after Ross Perot’s successful third party campaign in 1992. The Libertarian Party candidate has never been included in a nationally televised debate. Congressman Ron Paul was excluded from at least one debate in Iowa in 2007, but was ultimately included in the important debates. If he had not been included in the debates, both his ideas and his popularity would have suffered as a result. Perhaps the Tea Party never would have formed.
Last week, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus formed a committee comprised of RNC member Jim Bopp, former RNC Chair Mike Duncan, former Florida GOP Chair Al Cardenas, and former Congressman Dick Armey to decide whether the Republican National Committee should sponsor debates to raise money for themselves. According to James Bopp, “The RNC or its designee may at its discretion determine the time, place, co-sponsors, format , subject matter, moderators and participants” for the debates.
“Those candidates invited to participate in RNC-sanctioned debates will be allowed to participate in a list exchange with the RNC,” wrote Bopp.
And therein lies the problem. Certain candidates will be invited and other candidates will be excluded.
This is exactly what I warned of when I asked you to write your RNC member to oppose the nomination of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus just a few months ago.
The RNC is planning to pick favorites. If conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt — who thinks this is a grand plan for the Republican Party — has his way, Congressman Ron Paul and Governor Gary Johnson will be excluded from RNC-sanctioned debates. Writes Hewitt:
“Bar the stage to those candidates who simply cannot win the nomination, even under Iowa-upset circumstances. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania are long-shots, but they have a plausible path to the nomination. Former Rep. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson do not. If Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, asks for another giant chunk of valuable time, the RNC should say no, and put up with the howls from the 1 percent who will scream.“
Fortunately, some debates are already scheduled, including a May 5 South Carolina debate, a June 7 New Hampshire debate, an August Iowa debate, two debates in Florida in September and October, and the Politico/NBC debate on September 14 in California. However, if the RNC continues with its plan, they could simply adopt some of these debates and begin excluding whomever they want — just as the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates excludes third party candidates each Presidential election cycle.
Please contact RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, RNC Chief of Staff Jeff Larson, RNC Committeeman from Indiana Jim Bopp, RNC Committeeman from Kentucky Mike Duncan, FreedomWorks’ Dick Armey, and American Conservative Union’s Al Cardenas. Ask them for inclusive debates that include Congressman Ron Paul, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, and former Reagan official Fred Karger.
Here is a sample letter:
Dear Committeeman Bopp,
I recently learned that the Republican National Committee is sponsoring its own debates to raise money for the RNC. I am a Republican party activist and am also involved with my local Tea Party. I saw conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt comment that certain candidates should be excluded from the RNC-sanctioned debates.
Mr. Bopp, rest assured that I will not donate to the RNC if they exclude candidates like Congressman Ron Paul, Governor Buddy Roemer, or Governor Gary Johnson. I want to hear as many voices as possible so that the Republican Party can have its best choice to defeat President Obama in 2012.
If your debates are going to be inclusive, then please forge ahead. However, if you’re going to exclude candidates and ideas from the process, count me out.
You may also want to write to Hugh Hewitt to ask him why he believes American voters should be isolated from new ideas and different approaches to solving our problems.
This leads us to the most important point about the discussion: We need more liberty-loving Republicans involved in the Republican Party so our voices can be heard.
If we’re not able to change the Republican Party from within, liberty will lose.
It’s really that simple. We choose to inject libertarian ideas into the party, or we give up. Those are our options.