Republican National Committee warns candidates that attending Iowa Christian group’s forum will disqualify them from debates


The Republican National Committee is warning some 2024 Republican presidential candidates not to attend a Thanksgiving forum held by a Christian group in Iowa, saying it would disqualify them from participating in future RNC presidential debates.

Five candidates – former President Trump, Governor of Florida. Ron DeSantisformer South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are invited to participate in Family Leaders’ “Thanksgiving Family Forum” on November 17.

“The Republican National Committee’s Office of Legal Counsel is aware that several Republican presidential candidates have been invited to participate in a public press event in Iowa in November, where they will “gather around a table for a moderate, friendly and open dialogue”. The Republican National Committee’s Office of Legal Counsel said in a letter obtained by CNN,

“Accordingly, please be aware that any Republican presidential candidate who participates in this or other similar events will be deemed to be in violation of this commitment and will be disqualified from participating in any future Republican National Committee-sanctioned presidential primary debates,” the office said. qualifications.”

In an Oct. 28 letter, the office reminded candidates that they had agreed not to participate in any debates during the campaign that had not been approved by the National Council of the Republic.

real political clarity first reported on the letter.

Despite warnings from the Republican National Committee, family leaders plan to move forward with the campaign.

“We do not believe our forum meets the Republican National Committee’s ‘debate’ restrictions,” Drew Zahn, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement, noting that the family leader’s participation in the 2012 and 2016 elections The same events were held during the cycle.

“So we know from experience that our event can be a win-win addition to the electoral process without in any way competing with the RNC debates. It’s just a completely different format and type of event,” Zah said. En said.

DeSantis, Scott and Ramaswamy have RSVPed to participate in the event, according to Zahn.

DeSantis said Friday he would attend the event despite warnings from the Republican National Committee. “I will be attending the Family Leadership Conference. I think it is an important part of the process. It has been part of the process for a long time. This should not cause the RNC to punish any candidate,” DeSanti said Si told producers after a campaign event in Ames, Iowa.

Florida’s governor said he told the group’s president and CEO Bob Vander Plaats earlier Friday, “I don’t know what you’re going to do to fix this. But whatever Whatever happens, I’ll be here, so can you guys write to me?”

Ramaswamy campaign spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin said in a statement to CNN that the campaign “hopes the RNC and family leaders can work out the logistical issues , to best serve our constituents.”

CNN has reached out to the campaigns of DeSantis, Haley and Scott for comment.

“Trump’s reluctance to attend other events leads us to believe he will not accept the invitation,” Zahn said. Vanderplatz has been critical of the former president because he did not attend the organization’s family leadership event in July. summit.

An Iowa Republican official familiar with the Thanksgiving event said the Trump campaign was concerned about a behind-the-scenes forum with the Republican National Committee, the latest step in a long-running feud between Trump and Vander Platz.

A Trump aide said the former president was invited but had no plans to attend.

In a press release, family leaders promoted the event as “an evening where invitees sit around the table, rather than at the podium, for a so-called ‘family discussion with the presidential candidates.'” Vander ·Platts will host this event.

Last month, the Republican National Committee Blocked joint appearance Reported by Ramaswamy and Republican rival Chris Christie on Fox News.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.

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