CNBC would like to nix the opening and closing statements for the third Republican presidential debate, but Donald Trump's campaign will have none of it, threatening to pull out of the debate if the format isn't changed.
Politico reports that Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, disagreed so forcefully with the debate format laid out by CNBC in a memo sent to Republican campaigns and during a conference call with the RNC, that he threaten to pull Trump from the lineup if specific changes weren't made:
On the call, according to three sources who were on the line, Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, said that if the debate does not include opening or closing statements and is longer than two hours total, including commercial breaks, the real estate mogul would have to reconsider his participation.
CNBC proposed to prevent candidates from being able to give opening and closing statements in an effort to have more time for questions and answers.
Over the course of two separate conference calls, including one that was nearly 90-minutes long, the campaigns of Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and John Kasich all registered their complaints about the format of the October 28th debate in Boulder, Colorado to CNBC and to the Republican National Committee.
“The criteria that was outlined by CNBC was never discussed with any of the candidates or the campaigns," Trump's campaign manager explained to the New York Times. "So what CNBC did was send out a memo and said, ‘Here’s the criteria as you have approved them and that went out to all the campaigns. We said we never agreed to this criteria.'”
Lewandowski told the Times that it was not him on the conference call as Politico had reported but he did confirm that the campaign was considering boycotting the third Republican debate because of CNBC's proposed format.
“Until we have this criteria specifically laid out,” he said, “it is difficult to participate.”
Trump's campaign wants the RNC to remove the CNBC debate from its list of sanctioned events if they don't change the length of the debate to 120 minutes.