- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Republican Party’s national governing body on Wednesday approved a nationally televised presidential debate March 19 to be hosted by The Washington Times, PBS, National Public Radio, Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Republican Party.

The debate could come at a critical time for the GOP nomination race, as the current calendar of GOP presidential caucuses and primaries makes it mathematically impossible for any candidate to secure a majority of delegates before April 24.

In agreeing to co-sponsor the event, Washington Times President Thomas P. McDevitt said The Times is “committed to engaging the public in productive political discourse.”

“Our partnership with PBS, NPR, Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon GOP to sponsor an RNC-sanctioned presidential debate is an ideal way to exercise such muscular journalism,” Mr. McDevitt said.

RNC rules allow it to sanction one nationally televised debate per month during the 2011-12 cycle.

The debate will be conducted by a three-journalist panel made up of a TV, radio and print journalist and will cover eight topics, from jobs and economic growth to a plan for action in the first 100 days in the presidency.

With a format giving candidates two minutes to answer questions, “This is the most substantive presidential debate proposal the Republican National Committee has ever sanctioned,” said Jim Bopp, chairman of the RNC Committee on Presidential Debates.

The debate will be offered for global broadcast by Armed Forces Radio and Television, Voice of America and the BBC World Service and will reach viewers and listeners around the world, Oregon Republican Party Chairman Allen Alley said.

“The unique partnership that we will be part of is reflective of a unique time in our nation’s history,” said Washington Times Editor Ed Kelley, who took over the paper’s helm earlier this year. “We’re honored that leaders in Oregon have asked us to help tell the story to our audiences — both digital and print — at a crucial point in the presidential campaign.”