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'Colossal failure': Ex-RNC director dings party for scheduling GOP debate on the same night as Country Music Awards

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Vivek Ramaswamy at the GOP presidential debate on November 8, 2023.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Vivek Ramaswamy at the GOP presidential debate on November 8, 2023.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • The RNC is facing criticism for a variety of issues, including its handling of this year's debates.

  • One former director dinged the RNC for holding a debate the same night as the Country Music Awards.

  • He said the party wouldn't do that unless they're "actually trying not to reach" GOP primary voters.

One year out from the 2024 election, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is facing tough questions about both fundraising and debates.

The RNC had just over $9 million cash on hand at the end of October, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

That's the lowest figure in over 8 years. By contrast, the Democratic National Committee reported having nearly $18 million cash on hand.

"I think there's more donors just fully committed to their candidate right now," RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told the Washington Post, adding that there's "nothing unusual about this."

But it's not just about the money.

The RNC also faces criticism for its handling of the 2024 presidential primary debates, which have so far been spurned by the party's overwhelming frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.

Scott Reed, who served as RNC's executive director in the mid-1990s, told the Post that the party made a mistake by hosting the third debate on November 8 — the same night as the Country Music Association Awards.

"Who in the world would schedule a debate on the same night as the Country Music [Association] Awards unless you were actually trying not to reach Republican primary voters?" said Reed.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the November 8 debate drew 7.5 million viewers, down from the 9.5 million who watched the second debate on September 27. The CMA Awards, meanwhile, drew just under 7 million viewers.

"I don't believe the party should be in the debate business," Reed continued. "Let the conservative marketplace decide, and let the campaigns decide where they want to show up. It's been a colossal failure."

McDaniel, for her part, said that the RNC "is always going to be a bit of a punching bag."

But the Post reported that the criticism has taken a "personal toll" on the RNC chair and that she "assiduously monitors criticism online."

The next RNC-sponsored debate is set to take place on December 6 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Read the original article on Business Insider