By Scott Malone
BOSTON Aug 16 The U.S. Republican party
resolved on Friday to boycott any 2016 presidential debates
sponsored by CNN and NBC if the networks go ahead with plans to
make special programs on Hillary Clinton, who is widely expected
to seek the Democratic nomination.
Delegates to a meeting of the Republican National Committee
voted for a resolution that included the boycott and said the
programs would be "little more than extended commercials
promoting former Secretary Clinton."
The RNC also resolved that it would require that any future
debates have "appropriate moderators and debate partners."
Delegates approved the motion by a unanimous voice vote.
Republican leaders sent letters of protest to both networks
last week complaining that a planned CNN documentary and an NBC
miniseries amount to political ads for the former secretary of
state and wife of former President Bill Clinton. She has not
said she is running.
The vote came on the last day of a three-day gathering
called "Making it Happen," at which Republicans discussed ways
to use technology and other means to connect with a wider range
of voters, following Mitt Romney's failure to unseat incumbent
Democratic President Barack Obama in last November's election.
Officials with CNN, a unit of Time-Warner Inc, have
said their documentary, due to appear in theaters and on
television in 2014, is not yet complete, while Comcast Corp's
NBC said its mini-series is being produced by an
entertainment unit, which is independent of the news division.
In preparation for the 2016 presidential election, RNC
Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the party would consider
holding its nominating convention in June or July, rather than
August, to reduce the amount of time Republican candidates spend
competing against one another to win the nomination. An earlier
convention also would allow the Republican nominee to focus on
the Democratic opponent.
"A network that spends millions of dollars to spotlight
Hillary Clinton, that's a network with an obvious bias and
that's a network that won't be hosting a single Republican
primary debate," Priebus said on Friday. "We're done putting up
with this nonsense...The media overplayed their hand this time."
A Democratic Party spokesman said the move would only limit
Republicans' ability to reach more voters.
"If they truly want to connect with a broader audience, they
need an agenda that fights for the middle class and is
inclusive," said Michael Czin, a spokesman for the Democratic
National Committee. "Sadly, it appears that with today's vote,
their approach is to actually speak to even fewer voters."
An affiliate of News Corp's Fox had been in talks
with NBC about a role in producing its Clinton miniseries,
according to press reports, but on Friday dropped out of those
talks, U.S. media reported.
Representatives of Fox did not respond requests for comment.
NBC said in a statement its series "is in the very early
stages. The script has not been written nor has it been ordered
to production. It would be premature to draw any conclusions."
CNN also noted that its documentary is far from complete.
"We encouraged all interested parties to wait until the
program premieres before judgments are made about it," the
network said. "Unfortunately, the RNC was not willing to do
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, seen as a likely 2016
Republican contender for the White House, addressed the RNC
meeting in a closed-door session Thursday.
Clinton, the former U.S. senator from New York, ran
unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2008, losing to
Obama, but Republicans at the Boston meeting clearly saw her as
Republicans are holding their regular summer meeting in a
Boston hotel next door to the convention center where Romney
delivered his election night concession speech nine months ago.
They moved the meeting, originally due to be held in Chicago, to
Boston as a show of support after the April 15 bombing of the