Florida Governor Ron DeSantis lashed out at the Republican National Committee after the organization threatened to prevent GOP presidential candidates from taking part in future party-sanctioned debates if they engaged in an open-press event in Iowa next week.
DeSantis on participating in @theFAMiLYLEADER forum:
"I'm showing up. If I have a chance to speak to Iowans, I'm going to show up and speak to Iowans. I’m not going to let the RNC muzzle me." pic.twitter.com/cgGYueZZNT
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) November 11, 2023
I'm going to be there at The Family Leader. I think it's an important part of this process.
There’s no way that should cause the RNC to penalize any candidate.
I'll be here no matter what happens. pic.twitter.com/ItLfjAPoBJ
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantis) November 11, 2023
The threat came prior to an agreement that was announced Saturday between the RNC and organizers of the event to allow GOP candidates to participate.
From Fox News:
Prior to the agreement over the format of the forum, in an Oct. 28 letter to the respective presidential campaigns the RNC Counsel’s Office said that any candidate who participates in the Nov. 17 Des Moines event would violate their pledge to not participate in non-RNC-sanctioned primary debates.
“It has come to the attention of the RNC Counsel’s Office that several Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate in an open-press event in Iowa in November at which they would ‘gather around the table to have a moderated, friendly, and open discussion about the issues.’ In other words, a debate,” the RNC Counsel’s Office wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Fox News.
“As a reminder, in accordance with RNC Rule 10(a)(11), each Republican presidential candidate participating in RNC-sanctioned primary debates has signed a pledge stating, in relevant part, that ‘if I participate in any debate that has not been sanctioned by the Republican National Committee, I will not be eligible to participate in any further Republican National Committee sanctioned debates,'” the counsel’s office added in the letter.
Should the candidate(s) choose to ignore the warning and participate in the event, or an event similar in nature, the counsel’s office said the candidate(s) said at the time that they “will be deemed to have violated this pledge and will be disqualified from taking part in any future RNC-sanctioned presidential primary debates.”
Five GOP candidates — former President Donald Trump, DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — were invited to the Family Leader’s “Thanksgiving Family Forum.”
Organizers for the event told Fox News that three candidates — DeSantis, Ramaswamy, and Scott – have confirmed they will attend, with Haley expected to do the same.
Following the letter to Republican candidates, Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats announced Saturday that he and the RNC had “agreed on the format” for the event.
“The Forum is NOT a debate,” he wrote in a post to X. “Thus, the RNC is giving a thumbs up for candidates to participate. Thanks to the RNC for facilitating a win/win for the process.”
The RNC and I have agreed on the format of @TheFamilyLeader November 17 Thanksgiving FAMiLY Forum. The Forum is NOT a debate. Thus, the RNC is giving a thumbs up for candidates to participate. Thanks to the RNC for facilitating a win/win for the process. #ChooseWell2024
— Bob Vander Plaats (@bobvanderplaats) November 11, 2023
Earlier this year, DeSantis called for changes at the top of the RNC, saying to organization needed new blood.
🚨 FLASHBACK (1/26/23): Gov. DeSantis calls for change at the RNC, endorses Harmeet Dhillon:
"We've had 3 substandard election cycles in a row, '18, '20, and '22, and I'd say '22 was the worst. We need new blood in the RNC."
THE GOP SHOULD HAVE LISTENED!pic.twitter.com/H8ahLmOdvp
— Proud Elephant 🇺🇸🦅 (@ProudElephantUS) November 8, 2023