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R.N.C. Signals a Pullout From Presidential Debates

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RNC about to pull out of debates

The Republican National Committee is preparing to change its rules to require presidential candidates seeking the party’s nomination to sign a pledge to not participate in any debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Republican committee officials alerted the debate commission to their plans in a letter sent on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. If the change goes forward, it would be one of the most substantial shifts in how presidential and vice-presidential debates have been conducted since the commission began organizing debates more than 30 years ago.

The nonprofit commission, founded by the two parties in 1987 to codify the debates as a permanent part of presidential elections, describes itself as nonpartisan. But Republicans have complained for nearly a decade that its processes favor the Democrats, mirroring increasing rancor from conservatives toward Washington-based institutions.

The move by the R.N.C. was an outgrowth of those long-held complaints and came after months of discussions between the commission and party officials. According to the R.N.C.’s letter, the chairman of the party’s temporary presidential debate committee, David Bossie, began discussions last year with the debate commission’s co-chairman, Frank Fahrenkopf, a former Republican official.

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