RNC says candidates free to participate in unsanctioned January debates

RNC says candidates free to participate in unsanctioned January debates

The Republican National Committee (RNC) on Friday said it is not sponsoring GOP primary debates scheduled for January and will formally release candidates from a requirement that they only participate in RNC-sanctioned forums.

The decision means three debates announced by networks for January ahead of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary won’t be cohosted by the RNC. The committee sanctioned four debates this year, including most recently on Wednesday.

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

“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 decision comes after CNN announced this week it plans to host a pair of Republican primary debates in January — one on Jan. 10 in Iowa, ahead of that state’s caucuses, and another on Jan. 21 in New Hampshire, two days before that state’s primary.

ABC News also announced it will hold a debate in New Hampshire on Jan. 18.

Candidates were required to sign a pledge to take part in the RNC’s first debate earlier this year, which included a commitment not to participate in any debates not sanctioned by the national party.

The RNC’s latest update makes the fourth GOP debate — broadcast on NewsNation from Tuscaloosa, Ala., this week — the last party-sanctioned event for now.

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