Trump, Carson threaten boycott of debate

WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson are threatening to boycott the next GOP debate over its proposed format, underscoring a rare political alliance between the leading outsider candidates.

In a joint letter to CNBC’s Washington bureau chief Thursday, the billionaire businessman and retired neurosurgeon told the hosting network they will not appear at the Oct. 28 debate unless it’s capped at two hours with commercials and the candidates are allowed to speak directly to the camera at its opening and close.

Ed Brookover, a senior Carson campaign strategist, said the campaigns were caught off-guard when CNBC sent them an email Wednesday outlining debate rules that the candidates had not agreed to. The agenda included two hours of debate time plus four commercial breaks and no opening or closing statements.

“We thought that the only way to make sure that candidates are heard early and late was not to rely on the moderators,” he said, referring to the push for opening and closing statements.

The letter came after a heated call between the campaigns and the Republican National Committee over the debate’s format.

Neither Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski nor Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks immediately responded to requests for comment. But Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to express his anger.

“The @GOP should not agree to the ridiculous debate terms that @CNBC is asking unless there is a major benefit to the party,” he said. He accused the network of trying to lengthen the debate in order to sell more ads. Trump has complained often about the second debate, hosted by CNN, which stretched on for a marathon three hours.

CNBC spokesman Brian Steel said in a statement that the network was aiming to host “the most substantive debate possible,” but was open to changing the format.

“Our practice in the past has been to forego opening statements to allow more time to address the critical issues that matter most to the American people,” he said. “We started a dialogue yesterday with all of the campaigns involved and we will certainly take the candidates’ views on the format into consideration as we finalize the debate structure.”

Trump and Carson have developed a unique rapport, with little fighting between the two despite the fact that Carson has been gaining on Trump in opinion polls.

The topic of debates has been a contentious one throughout the campaign, with both Democrats and Republicans sparring over who is included on stage and how much time they’re allotted.

During the first Democratic debate this week, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb complained repeatedly about how little time he had to answer questions. He said Thursday he felt the debate had been “rigged in terms of who was going to get the time on the floor.”

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 8

Here’s what to expect this week.

Curtis Davis sharpens a spike at his makeshift campsite near Juneau International Airport on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
With no official place to camp, homeless and neighborhoods alike are suffering miseries

Complaints to JPD nearly double, social agencies seek “safety zone,” many campers just want peace.

Alaska Supreme Court Justice Peter Maassen receives applause from his fellow justices and members of the Alaska Legislature during the annual State of the Judiciary address on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy will be asked to pick fourth state Supreme Court justice

Applications being accepted to replace Peter Maassen, who reaches mandatory retirement age next year

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, June 10, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska ranked choice repeal measure wins first round of legal challenge, but trial awaits

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a proposed… Continue reading

Juneau resident Ajah Rose Bishop, 21, suffered severe spinal injuries in a single-vehicle accident early Saturday morning. (GoFundMe fundraiser photo)
Woman breaks spine in single-vehicle collision on Egan Drive early Saturday morning

21-year-old Juneau resident medivaced to Anchorage, online fundraising effort underway.

Shannan Greene (left) and Sharyn Augustine hold signs on April 27 urging residents to sign recall petitions for Juneau Board of Education President Deedie Sorensen and Vice President Emil Mackey due to their roles in a budget crisis for the current fiscal year. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
School board recall petitions submitted; supporters of Saturday cruise ship ban need more signatures

Third initiative seeking to repeal default by-mail elections also has 10 days to get more signers.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, June 9, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, June 8, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read