- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2015

It only took a few hours for the squabbles to break out following the Republican National Committee’s announcement revealing the time, place and network for the Party’s nine official Republican presidential debates. Critics complained that such networks as Univision and MSNBC had been frozen out of the line-up, which is a lot skinnier than it was in 2012, when 20 debates crowded the schedule.

“Does the Republican Party’s official list of 2016 presidential primary debates reveal a desire to avoid uncomfortable immigration questions? Some Democrats feel the National Republican Committee intentionally snubbed Univision on Friday when the country’s largest Spanish-language channel was not included in the list of channels,” points out Colin Campbell, a Business Insider analyst.

“It’s shameful that the RNC would duck a presidential debate on the most-watched Spanish language network. The RNC is probably scared to debate on a network watched by millions every night because they undoubtedly know their candidates plan to run vehement anti-immigrant campaigns,” Democratic New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told him.

There is some Spanish-language content in the mix, however. A debate broadcast from Florida and scheduled for February, 2016 will be hosted by NBC - to be rebroadcast on, Telemundo, a division of NBCUniversal Hispanic Enterprises and Content - which typically reaches U.S. Hispanic viewers in 210 markets through its 16 owned stations and affiliates, according to NBC.

The omission of MSNBC, meanwhile, does not surprise Alex Weprin, a reporter for Capital New York. “Despite the channel’s political focus, it has made no secret of of trying to differentiate itself from Fox News and CNN by focusing on more liberal pundits and policy. The RNC likewise, has made no secret of its distaste for the channel,” he says.

The committee has other issues, however.

“The 2016 cycle is underway, and I can tell you it will be a landmark election for Republicans. 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,” notes RNC chairman Reince Priebus. “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.”

Meanwhile, CNN is satisfied. For the second time, the network will partner with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation for a debate in California come September.

“Over thirty five years ago, Ronnie announced his candidacy for higher office because he believed that the citizens of this country wanted a president who could inspire, says former First Lady Nancy Reagan. “I believe with all my heart that the country, and the world, prospered under his leadership. It is time to find a new leader, and I’m so pleased that the Reagan Foundation, just as it has in the last two presidential elections, will be hosting a candidates’ debate to do just that.”

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker says he’s “pleased” with the partnership, adding, “President Reagan is frequently cited as a source of inspiration for many Republican candidates, so we can think of no better venue from which to bring this historic event to viewers and voters.”

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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