At a meeting on Thursday, the Republican National Committee unanimously decided to slash the number of presidential primary debates for 2016, maybe in half. There were 20 debates in 2012, which most Republicans agree hurt Mitt Romney in the end.
According to James Hohmann and Dylan Byers at Politico, to make sure this new, limited-debate plan works, the RNC will "crack down on candidates who participate in debates that aren’t sanctioned by the party — by barring them from ones that are." RNC Chairman Reince Priebus also wants to make sure that debate moderators ask nicer questions. He tells Politico,
[Voters] want good moderators that aren’t in the business of playing gotcha, and it’s our responsibility to become the custodian of the nomination process. The last couple cycles, the RNC forgot about their responsibility of being the custodian of the nomination process.
Basically, Priebus and the RNC want to take away what made the last primary season so fun. Remember Gov. Rick Perry's "oops"? Mitt Romney's $10,000 bet? Everything Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich said? Fewer debates in 2016 means fewer chances for magical, unscripted GOP moments, and less attention on less serious candidates.
Potential candidates seem to agree with Priebus, however. "Privately, I’ve spoken to more than a few of the potential candidates, and overwhelmingly they support this. Not even overwhelmingly — unanimously," he says.