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Reduced to...Entertainment': GOP Considering Major Changes to Presidential Debates


"we really don't control the topics, the venue, the crowds, nothing."

A GOP official says the party is considering making changes to presidential debates for the 2016 cycle. (AP)

PHOENIX (AP) -- Republican Party leaders are troubled by how debates have been staged for the party's presidential contenders and are discussing having the party take over control of the events for the 2016 election cycle, a senior member of the Republican National Committee said Friday.

"We're very concerned that we really don't control the topics, the venue, the crowds, nothing," said Bruce Ash, Arizona's national committeeman and chairman of the RNC's rules committee. "The problem we're trying to fix is being able to have control over the destiny of our own party and .... how the candidates are introduced to the country."

Ash said the concerns and the possibility of making changes for 2016 will be discussed by the RNC during an April meeting to be held in Scottsdale, Ariz. The next GOP presidential debate will be Wednesday in Mesa.

"We're going to discuss the possibility in the next election cycle of a whole new approach to how debates are broadcast, who has the rights, the formats, the venues, everything. There's a growing desire among Republican committee members to completely take control of the debates in the 2016 election cycle."

Some party officials feel some debate moderators "have an agenda" that includes ginning up controversy and dissension within the party, Ash said during an interview. "This has been reduced to nothing more, in some cases, to entertainment."

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