In a letter to CNBC, which is hosting the next debate, the two candidates said they would not participate in the Oct. 28 debate “if it is longer than 120 minutes including commercials and does not include opening and closing statements.”
In a conference call between Republican National Committee officials and top advisers to the presidential campaigns on Thursday, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also said that Trump would consider skipping the debate if his terms were not met.
The demand for a two-hour debate comes in the wake of CNN’s decision to extend the previous GOP debate to three hours, leaving some of the candidates visibly exhausted.
One source who was on the call said it was clear from Lewandowski’s remarks that Trump had no interest in participating in the CNBC debate, which will be held in Boulder, Colorado.
In a statement, CNBC said, “Our goal is to host the most substantive debate possible. Our practice in the past has been to forego opening statements to allow more time to address the critical issues that matter most to the American people. We started a dialogue yesterday with all of the campaigns involved and we will certainly take the candidates’ views on the format into consideration as we finalize the debate structure.”
Trump also took to Twitter on Thursday to protest the terms of the debate.
“The @GOP should not agree to the ridiculous debate terms that @CNBC is asking unless there is a major benefit to the party,” he wrote.
“.@CNBC is pushing the @GOP around by asking for extra time (and no criteria) in order to sell more commercials,” he continued. “Why is the @GOP being asked to do a debate that is so much longer than the just-aired and very boring #DemDebate?”