RNC Thwarts Plans for Unofficial Ramaswamy-Christie Debate

RNC Thwarts Plans for Unofficial Ramaswamy Christie Debate | ltc-a

The entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie, the former New Jersey Governor, lashed out at the Republican National Committee on Tuesday after the organization effectively squashed plans for the two presidential candidates to face off in an unofficial debate tonight on Fox News.

The Christie-Ramaswamy event was teased Monday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as an hourlong special segment called “Candidates Corner,” to unfold at 6 p.m. Tuesday with Fox News host Bret Baier.

But according to a person familiar with the discussions, the R.N.C. told the candidates that if they went through with the one-on-one event, they would not be allowed to participate in future R.N.C.-sanctioned debates. (The next official debate is set for Nov. 8 in Miami.)

On Tuesday Mr. Christie criticized the threat on X, saying: “Our party needs more debates and in-depth conversations, not less,” adding: “When the R.N.C. stops conversations between candidates from happening that is real cause for concern.” He added that Fox News had offered every campaign the same opportunity, of a one-on-one discussion with another candidate. In a statement, Mr. Ramaswamy took a sharper tone: “Last week’s R.N.C. debate was a disgrace, and I’m starting to believe that was by design. This is what a broken and rigged nomination process looks like.”

In order to participate in the sanctioned R.N.C. debates, both Mr. Ramaswamy and Mr. Christie signed pledges in August that included language saying they agreed to participate “in only Primary and General Election debates that have been sanctioned by the Republican National Committee.” (Fox never billed the segment as a debate, and the candidates themselves have avoided that term. But a person familiar with the R.N.C. said the arrangement was, effectively, a debate.)

“The same candidates complaining about the rules governing RNC debates all signed a pledge and agreed months ago to not participate in unsanctioned debates,” an R.N.C. spokesperson said in a statement. “The RNC will continue to enact a fair, transparent debate process and we will not give in to pressure from individuals seeking to change the rules to favor their candidacy.”

Politico reported on Tuesday that, under terms agreed to by the R.N.C. and the network, the two candidates would instead sit separately for interviews that will air back to back. A person familiar with the plans said the segment would be called “Candidate’s Corner.”