RNC threatens disqualification for candidates if they participate in Iowa group’s forum

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The Republican National Committee will ban candidates from future presidential debates if they participate in an Iowa conservative Christian group’s upcoming forum, the committee threatened Friday.

The Family Leader Foundation invited all major presidential candidates to its “Thanksgiving Family Forum” next Friday, but the RNC said the event is really an unsanctioned debate.

The organization describes the forum as a “moderated, friendly and open discussion about the issues that are most important to evangelical Americans today.”

The threat, first reported by RealClearPolitics, would bar attending candidates from future, sanctioned RNC debates, and represents a campaign controversy over the committee’s control of debates overall.

As former President Trump — the clear primary favorite — bucks and demeans RNC debates and viewership continues to drop, they appear to have less importance than ever.

The Family Leader Foundation told RCP that three candidates have committed to attend their event: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy. Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and former President Trump were also invited, the group said.

According to the event’s website, which does not list attendees, candidates will also host “hospitality rooms” after the moderated panel to meet and speak with voters.

The fight with the Family Leader is not the first time the RNC has gotten involved in potential debates. Ramaswamy and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie scrapped a hastily-scheduled television debate shortly after it was announced after the RNC threatened consequences.

The pair ended up appearing separately on the same night’s Fox News broadcast instead.

The Hill has reached out to the DeSantis, Scott and Ramaswamy campaigns for comment.

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