Dr. Ben Carson’s plot to force changes to future presidential debates appeared to largely collapse on Tuesday as more of his GOP rivals refused to go along with him, and he dialed back many of the demands he hoped to make to television networks.
Carson’s campaign in recent days had attempted to build a coalition of Republican candidates to send a letter to networks demand changes to future debates after last week’s rocky match-up hosted by the financial news network CNBC.
On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he would not sign the letter, and an aide to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that the campaign had “no intention to” either, Politico reported.
Carson’s campaign manager, Barry Bennett, sent the other Republican candidates a shortened letter of potential demands for the television networks. The letter, obtained by Politico, included only questions and eliminated certain demands, such as campaign approval of graphics about the candidates and avoiding candidate-to-candidate and “gotcha” questions. The letter still asked networks whether they will include opening and closing statements, and ask an equal number of questions per candidate. But the campaigns no longer made clear demands on those points.
Along with Carson, the campaigns for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will still likely sing the letter, according to The Hill. Campaign representatives for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) told The Hill that they were still reviewing the letter.
Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had already rejected the letter.
After initial fury from the Republican candidates over last week’s Republican presidential debate, which was hosted by CNBC, Carson’s campaign organized the others to develop a list of demands for future debates. Representatives from numerous campaigns met over the weekend, and Republican consultant Ben Ginsberg drafted a long letter with questions and rules for the networks.
Commentators, including some conservative television hosts, mocked the long list of demands, and candidates quickly began to peel off from the effort.