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Republicans May Impose Debate Boycott on CNN, NBC: Priebus

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she has no plans for a second presidential run, though she hasn’t ruled herself out completely for 2016. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that his party will refuse to allow networks that air documentaries on Hillary Clinton to host any candidate debates in the 2016 election cycle.

Priebus, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said his party “will boycott the company that puts the miniseries on the air” because the broadcasts are designed “to promote Hillary Clinton.”

The effort to rein Clinton’s national exposure comes as the Republican Party is trying to regroup after losing the last two presidential elections. Party members are gathering in Boston this week for their annual three-day summer meeting.

CNN Films is planning a feature-length documentary about Clinton and NBC Entertainment has a mini-series in the works ahead of a potential 2016 White House Democratic primary bid by the former U.S. secretary of state and first lady, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Both networks hosted Republican debates in the last election campaign.

The RNC sent letters on Aug. 5 to Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, and Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide saying the programs were a “thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election.”

Fundraising Strategy

The move is “a great fundraising strategy from the RNC,” Joe Trippi, a Democratic political strategist, said on “Fox News Sunday” today.

Clinton, 65, has said she has no plans for a second presidential run, though she hasn’t ruled out herself out completely for 2016.

“If Hillary gets into the race, there will be a coronation of her because there are so many Democrats who last time supported her who I think are anxious to see her back out there again,” Donna Brazile, a political consultant and commentator who was Democrat Al Gore’s campaign manager in the 2000 presidential race, said today on ABC’s “This Week.”

Potential Republican presidential rivals include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

“There’s a lot of competition out there,” Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman from Texas, said on ABC.

‘Hot Hand’

Christie is the “hot hand” right now at the national level, Chip Saltsman, a Republican political strategist, said on Fox today.

“But if you take it down to the microcosm of the primary states -- not so much,” Saltsman said. “So, he’s doing really well with the independents and kind of regular Republicans out there. But with the right wing of the party, he’s not quite as popular.”

Saltsman said Rubio was hurt with Republican voters over his support for an overhaul of immigration law.

“You go up there and you try to be a deal maker, trying to make it hurts you in the national polls pretty quickly,” he said.

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