Will Republicans Have Primary Debates for This Election?

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While you’re watching the Democratic debates tonight, you’ll no doubt be wondering if the Republicans are planning on having their own debates too. During the 2016 election, the Democrats and the Republicans both had primary debates.

So far, it’s looking like the Republicans won’t be having primary debates for the 2020 election, unlike the 2016 election. 

The Republicans were quite well known before the 2016 election for having large debates (which the Democrats are enjoying this time around.) The reason why both parties had debates for the primaries in 2016 is because there wasn’t an incumbent President running. But this time around, it’s different for the Republicans.

The Republicans actually nixed the idea of primary debates for 2020 back in May 2018, CNN reported at the time.

The Republican National Committee voted to eliminate the Republican’s debate committee. This was their way of saying that the RNC was not going to sanction any Republican primary debates for the 2020 election. It didn’t absolutely preclude the idea of debates. Technically, CNN noted, the RNC chair could still name a debates committee later.

At the time of the vote, there were rumblings that some people might decide to run against Trump on the Republican ticket. This vote was the RNC’s way of letting them know that they’d have a tough time and wouldn’t get the RNC’s support. In fact, they wouldn’t even have a chance to debate against Trump. Or at least, if they wanted to, it wouldn’t be easy.

So although the RNC’s vote doesn’t technically permanently shut down the idea of a Republican primary debate, it is a clear signal that the RNC isn’t really interested in hosting one.

The only official Republican candidate who has declared they’re running against Trump so far is former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

Both John Kasich and Bob Corker have expressed interest in running against Trump, but neither has declared.