Donald Trump blows up negotiations for GOP debates, will Art of the Deal with networks directly

Representatives from each of the Republican campaigns (except for Carly Fiorina’s, apparently, since she wasn’t allowed to send her super PAC) have been working through the weekend in order to compile a list of demands for networks that wish to host future Republican primary debates.

Some of these demands were reasonable. For instance, while Twitter had some fun with the campaigns’ request that debates be held in rooms kept at or below 67 degrees, candidates make demands like that all the time. And it’s an easy enough thing to control. Other demands, on the other hand, were positively ridiculous, ranging from petty to unenforceable to antithetical to the very concept of debates. The candidates wanted the right to pre-approve the graphics that would appear next to them on-screen, have networks commit to no candidate-to-candidate questions and prohibit candidates from making pledges while on stage, among other demands.

Perhaps most interestingly, the Republican National Committee was to be cut out from the debate terms process entirely, relegated to the role of organizing the logistics of the events themselves.

It’s amazing what kind of justice a group can get for themselves when they collectively bargain with an organization that profits from their labor, no?

However, all that just got thrown out the window, as Donald Trump — because of course it would be Donald Trump — has backed out of the agreement, declaring that he is going to negotiate with the networks directly. From the Washington Post:

Donald Trump, screenshot via 60 Minutes

Donald Trump, screenshot via 60 Minutes

Trump plans to reject a joint letter to television network hosts regarding upcoming primary debates drafted Sunday at a private gathering of operatives from at least 11 presidential campaigns, the Republicans said.

The move by Trump, coming just hours after more than a dozen Republican strategists huddled in the Washington suburbs to craft a list of possible demands, effectively throttles an effort by the campaigns and the letter’s drafter, longtime GOP attorney Ben Ginsberg, to find consensus and work collectively to negotiate terms.

While two of Trump’s senior aides attended the Sunday meeting, they were far from ready to sign a letter, and they left the session unconvinced that a group push on the debates would be helpful to protecting Trump’s front-runner status or providing him with the most possible air time on primetime stages, the Republicans added.

To be clear, the particulars of debate negotiations are always messy and they are always petty. They just usually aren’t this far out in the open, and they usually aren’t held from such a position of fear at the possibility of getting asked about the particulars of candidates’ tax plans and personal affiliations.

They also usually don’t include Donald Trump.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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16 Responses to “Donald Trump blows up negotiations for GOP debates, will Art of the Deal with networks directly”

  1. nicho says:

    But The Donald is a loose cannon. The corporatocracy does not like loose cannons. Wall Street does not like uncertainty. That’s why, when there is any uncertainty, the market tanks. Wall Street wants people who are rock-solid bets. That’s where Hillary comes in. She is someone who, once she’s bought, she stays bought.

  2. Indigo says:

    They remain popular among an electorate unfit to vote. And yet it’s all happening like a train wreck so astonishing it’s impossible to look away.

  3. zorbear says:

    Unless you want to give money to his favorite PAC, Make America Great Again PAC … then he’ll be your pet dog…

  4. Frances Griffith says:

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  5. Hue-Man says:

    The entire Congress is still for sale. Buy enough votes, presidential vetoes can be overridden like they never happened. Checks and balances will limit President Trump with the exception of nukes. (Yes, I realize how insane it is to even contemplate such a thing but insanity is the best adjective for this crop of TeaParty/GOP scamdidates.

  6. BeccaM says:

    A few thoughts, only semi-connected:

    – Consider what these candidates are doing now: They are making the Republican party leadership and the RNC irrelevant to the primaries process. Not that many decades ago, even after the rise of the primary elections system, candidates still needed the imprimatur of the party leadership. The proverbial ‘smoke-filled room’ political deals, king-making and horse-trading. Now? The party has no effective leadership of any kind. I’m still wondering if in fact we’re witnessing the beginning of the full-on fracturing of the GOP.

    – Most of the faux outrage over the CNBC debate (and the other debates) has been whining about how unfair the questions were. Yet the ones complained about most were the questions of pure substance and connected to the verisimilitude of the candidates and their often fraudulent assertions.

    – As near as I can tell, the candidates want free campaign infomercials, completely devoid of any actual truth or debate. Just each of them reciting carefully scripted chunks of their own stump speeches. It also seems clear now the individual candidates are jockeying to structure the “debates” (sic) in whatever way most benefits themselves.

    – Honestly, it boggles the mind, how these whiny, petulant pissants apparently cannot handle difficult questions, but they want to be elected to an office where they will have to deal with countries and individuals who won’t simply surrender and do whatever is demanded. Russia and Putin. China and Li Keqiang. ISIL and Al Qaeda. The biosphere of the entire planet. And so on. (The quality each of these share in common? None of them can be compelled to obedience through bluster and bullying.)

    – I continue to be dismayed by the sheer lack of qualifications for high elected office from not just one but most of the GOP candidates (and by ALL of the front-runners). Those men — and Fiorina — are manifestly unfit to be President…and yet they remain popular.

  7. mf_roe says:

    I agree, the only change will be Trump will cut out the middleman no need to share the loot if you hold the keys to the Treasury. Look up “Kingfish” Trump is certainty using a lot of Long’s playbook.

  8. BeccaM says:

    I disagree with the notion Trump can’t be bought. He already is. He’s been bought by the Plutocracy, by Parasitic Capitalism and by Big Money. There’s nothing he will do which won’t be for his own personal enrichment, which by extension means his decisions would be informed and influenced by the question, “What benefits the wealthy?”

    Even as a billionaire, it just means his bribe level is higher.

  9. mf_roe says:

    With Clinton’s negatives so high many repus will go for Trump simply to avoid Clinton gaining power. So you may be correct. We have had really bad people for President before, the damage will be mind-boggling but the blow-back will match. Whatever your opinion of Obama, you must admit the malfeasance of Bush gave him an opening that wouldn’t have existed if the repugs had supplied an intelligent choice.instead of going with the idiot.

  10. mf_roe says:

    Trump is no threat to the power structure, he will NOT do anything to derail that graft. He just wants to bump several incompetents out of the way and collect a trillion dollar windfall and believe me he knows exactly who to payoff and who he must destroy.

  11. Indigo says:

    He’s going to be our presidilident. It’s happening while we craft our witicisms. That’s how bad off the nation is.

  12. nicho says:

    You’re right. The only saving grace is that, being a billionaire, he can’t be bought. The corporatocracy, which will determine who wins, doesn’t want someone who can’t be bought.

  13. mf_roe says:

    Trump should be taken much more seriously by the Left. He mounts the stage and recites a long list of failures in the American system always in such ways as to direct blame on the established powers, he calls out plenty that repugs have done. The crowd loves it, no apologies from their side just BLAME. Then Trump goes on and on about how macho how powerful how entitled he is to hold power in Washington. While doing this he misses no opportunity to spew bigotry of all types across the debate stage. Many support him for that reason alone, a President Trump would turn political correctness into a total mud fight.

    Can he win,to early to know much about that. Will he go for it, I’m sure he can and probably will. Even if he wins, he will constantly bitch about the government not following his lead, he has no agenda other than self enrichment. In the end I’m not afraid of Trump so much as the loss of another 4 years in the fight to turn our system away from collapse.

  14. The_Fixer says:

    Enjoy the Trump, Republicans. You made him, now you have to live with him.

  15. Indigo says:

    There’s no Klown Kar without Klowns. And there’s Klwons aplenty in this story.

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