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Priebus: Punish candidates who violate GOP debate calendar

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Broadcasting locally on Philadelphia’s 990 AM WNTP this Tuesday, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus joined conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt to continue his push to reform the GOP’s 2016 presidential primary process, attempting to avoid a repeat of the fractious political contest that emerged in 2012.

“…I think we’ve got a six month slice and dice festival that’s destroying our party. And so the first thing I want to do is shrink that six months down to 60-70 days. I believe we’ve got to have a death penalty up front for states that want to jump the calendar and elongate everything. So the first thing is you shorten that time frame. You take the convention; you move it from the end of August to the end of June. That compresses the time frame by sixty days. …” Priebus suggested.

The RNC chairman went on to emphasize the importance of downsizing the number of debates in the 2016 primary fight and floated the possibility to penalizing candidates who violate RNC proscriptions.

“Here are the seven debates. You can compete in these debates if you want to, but if you compete in a debate other than the ones that are on this calendar, you lose 30% of your delegates every single time you violate. Or better yet, you lose all of them. So you have to comply with this calendar. I think that we’d have to use the leverage that we have as a national party to force compliance.” Priebus said.

Hewitt indicated his support for these changes but objected to Iowa’s open caucus format, which allows Democrats to vote in the GOP’s Hawkeye State contest.

Priebus pointed to other changes in the works for 2016 but would not comment on pressuring Iowa to adopt a closed caucus format.

When pressed on the issue he simply remarked, “Well, you know what? I don’t, I’m not, I can’t make news here right now, Hugh, on this issue. All I can tell you is that everything we’re doing to reform the primary calendar and the debate calendar is going to be [historic], and is going to make the process quicker. It’s going to make sure that we have more control over how our candidates proceed through the debate process. And we’re going to have more control over who’s deposing our candidates…”

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