RNC Overhauls 2016 Debate Schedule After 2012 Debacle

The Republican National Committee late Friday announced it will sanction just nine debates in the 2016 cycle -- none on MSNBC -- as it overhauls a debate policy that proved disastrous in the 2012 campaign.

Fox will get three (with one televised on Fox Business), CNN has two, NBC has two (with one on CNBC), and the other two networks, ABC and CBS, will each get one. 

"The committee chose to limit the number of debates, spread the debates across the country by sanctioning no more than one debate per state, allocate the debates over the course of seven months, include a larger conservative media presence and allow campaigns to know and plan for the debate schedule early," the RNC said in a statement.

Republicans actually did battle in 2012 in no fewer than 26 debates and forums. Fox and CNN each held six; NBC and CNBC had four (one, at the Reagan Library, was actually moderated by two liberal news agencies, MSNBC and Politico); ABC had two; CBS did one -- and there were seven "forums." The schedule was insane; once, all the candidates did a Saturday night debate, then had to race to another debate early the next morning. 

In the post-mortem of the GOP loss, top Republicans said the debate schedule was not only too arduous, but the party lost control of their message (remember CNN's Candy Crowley telling Mitt Romney he was "wrong"?) Not good. In an interview with CBS News, GOP chairman Reince Preibus said the 2012 debates were "an embarrassment" and "ridiculous," and "he vowed after the election to bring the debate process under a tighter yoke by the time 2016 came around." 

Slate.com even put together a handy chart to show that the more Republicans debate, the more they lose. And while last time the debate process started insanely early -- May -- this time around the first debate won't be held until August 2015.

“By constructing and instituting a sound debate process, it will allow candidates to bring their ideas and vision to Americans in a timely and efficient way," Priebus said. "This schedule ensures we will have a robust discussion among our candidates while also allowing the candidates to focus their time engaging with Republican voters.  It is exciting that Republicans will have such a large bench of candidates to choose from, and the sanctioned debate process ensures voters will have a chance to gain a chance to hear from them. The American people are tired of President Obama’s policies, and I am confident the debate process will enable candidates to communicate their ideas and ultimately help us elect a Republican president in 2016 to get our country back on track.”

The nine debates sanctioned between schedule is listed below:

1. Fox News
    August 2015

2. CNN
    September 2015

    October 2015

4. Fox Business
    November 2015

5. CNN
    December 2015

6. Fox News
    January 2016

7. ABC News
    February 2016
    New Hampshire

8. CBS News
    February 2016
    South Carolina

9. NBC/Telemundo
    February 2016