Ramaswamy also criticized the RNC for allowing the debate to be dominated by the establishment media and said conservative figures like Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan and Elon Musk should have been chosen as hosts instead. Indeed, GOP voters seem to be tuning out as the issues that actually matter to them are overlooked. The third debate saw a more than 40 percent drop in viewership compared to the first debate held in August, according to the New York Post. (With the announcement of the hosts of the fourth debate, it does look like the RNC is trying to address concerns that establishment media moderators are inhibiting substantive discussion.) But despite the clear need for change, the RNC last month seemed more worried about guarding its monopoly on the debate process. Five Republican presidential candidates were invited to take part in a “Thanksgiving Family Forum” hosted by The Family Leader, set to take place on Friday in Iowa, according to CNN. Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, is an important Christian figure in conservative politics. [firefly_poll] The RNC sent the candidates a letter warning them not to participate. “It has come to the attention of the RNC Counsel’s Office that several Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate in an open-press event in Iowa in November at which they would ‘gather around the table to have a moderated, friendly, and open discussion about the issues,'” the Oct. 28 letter obtained by Real Clear Politics said. “In other words, a debate.” In order to qualify for the RNC debates, the candidates had to sign a pledge vowing not to participate in any others. “Accordingly, please be advised that any Republican presidential candidate who participates in this or other similar events will be deemed to have violated this pledge and will be disqualified from taking part in any future RNC-sanctioned presidential primary debates,” the letter warned. Sounds like a pointless power trip that would have snubbed evangelical voters. Thankfully, Ramaswamy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott had better sense than to ignore this important demographic. They all agreed to attend the event despite the RNC’s warning, according to CNN. DeSantis in particular was resolute in his decision to participate. “I think it’s an important part of this process. It’s been a part of this process for a long time. There’s no way that should cause the RNC to penalize any candidate,” the governor said, adding that he told Vander Plaats “I’ll be [there] no matter what happens.” Perhaps realizing that the candidates hold all the cards, the RNC caved. “The Forum is NOT a debate. Thus, the RNC is giving a thumbs up for candidates to participate,” Vander Plaats announced on Saturday.
I’m sick and tired of this Republican Establishment that has made us a party of losers. Where is the accountability for years of losing: 2018, 2020, 2022 and now last night? I’m calling on @GOPChairwoman to resign tonight. pic.twitter.com/8hxVqWGlwL— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) November 9, 2023
So what did we learn from this saga? The RNC is happy to elevate hostile media outlets, but not a well-respected faith forum. This sends the wrong message about conservative priorities. The RNC would be wise not to discourage candidates from engaging with Christian leaders. Its poor track record demands more input, not less, from trusted evangelical voices. The party simply can’t risk further alienating a passionate base it can’t afford to lose.
The RNC and I have agreed on the format of @TheFamilyLeader November 17 Thanksgiving FAMiLY Forum. The Forum is NOT a debate. Thus, the RNC is giving a thumbs up for candidates to participate. Thanks to the RNC for facilitating a win/win for the process. #ChooseWell2024— Bob Vander Plaats (@bobvanderplaats) November 11, 2023
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.