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Continued: RNC changes rules on presidential debates as Koch-backed group plans $125 million effort

  • Article by: PHILIP ELLIOTT , Associated Press
  • Last update: May 9, 2014 - 5:30 PM

But the RNC recommendation did take a step at reining the haphazard debate style that characterized the 2012 selection progress. The freewheeling system provided a seemingly endless series of debates, from which former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney emerged as the party's nominee, but only after weathering harsh criticism from his rivals.

"Spending too much time fighting with each other distracts the party from its ultimate goal, which is winning the presidency," said Bruce Ash, chairman of the RNC's rules committee. Others said the debate moderators during the 2012 were hostile to the GOP or were Democrats who wanted Obama to win a second term.

The RNC rule does not explicitly pick debate moderators.

Meanwhile, political operatives said Americans for Prosperity's $125 million investment does not include as much as $30 million more that the group's sister nonprofit organization expects to spend on voter education efforts, which are designed to support conservative causes but don't necessarily advocate for specific legislation or candidates.

The senior official with knowledge of the memo, first reported by Politico, said the group has already spent more than $20 million this year ahead of the November midterm elections.

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