New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he won’t be counted among the Republican presidential hopefuls “moaning” about debate formats.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus informed NBC News chairman Andrew Lack last week that the party is “suspending” its partnership with the network for the Feb. 26 Telemundo/National Review primary debate at the University of Houston.
The next debate is eight days away in Milwaukee, hosted by Fox Business Network.
Advisers from at least 11 campaigns huddled in the Beltway to come up with debate demands, which include stages no hotter than 67 degrees and more inclusion for the GOP ticket undercards.
Christie told CNN this morning that “what came out of the meetings seems reasonable — but guaranteeing equal time, come on.”
“By the way, do not count me in the group that’s doing this moaning and complaining about this,” the governor added. “We went to the meeting yesterday to listen. I support the RNC continuing to make these decisions. And I’m not one of these guys that will sit there moan and complain about it.”
Christie stressed that he didn’t complain about moderators in the CNN or Fox debates, but last week’s CNBC event was different.
“The sense I have from these moderators, especially from John Harwood, was that he thought he was interviewing us. This wasn’t an interview. You are to ask a question, and I give a 60 second response. And after me response, if you want to follow up, it’s at you discretion to do it. He’s interrupting me in the middle of it and I can’t get my answer out,” he said.
“So I will comment on those things. But that doesn’t mean that I want us, the candidates, controlling the debate, the format, and having everybody negotiate. We’ll never agree. The RNC has done a good job. They took steps against NBC when they thought they got out of line. I think we should let the RNC continue to do what they’re doing.”
He added that the CNBC debate “wasn’t awful.”
“A lot of the questions were bad, but you know what? You learned a lot about the candidates on the stage. How you can handle going back and forth,” Christie said.
Ben Carson’s camp complained that there were “gotcha” questions, and is now recommending Internet debates instead of televised exchanges.
“I don’t want that disparate group of folks to be making these decisions because we’ll never make a decision,” Christie said of the GOP candidates. “No committee gets to makes a decision. Let the chairman of the RNC negotiate with the networks on its behalf. I trust him to do it. He’s a fair arbiter and that’s the way it should go.”