Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus is open to the idea of allowing well-known talk show hosts ask the questions during the 2016 presidential primary debates, but that concept has come into question from Grover Norquist.
Priebus is actively engaged in trying to control the debate process. He recently made headlines with his threat to exclude NBC and CNN from the schedule if they went ahead with separate Hillary Clinton features that were said to be under consideration.
Priebus has stated that using radio talent like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin or Sean Hannity would be a good idea, citing their familiarity with the Republican voter base.
Norquist told Capitol Hill newser The Hill that he disagrees.
The biggest problem, said Norquist, is that the trio and others like them are primarily entertainers, and their star power would only distract attention away from the candidates.
He added that despite strong conservative credentials, they do not always see eye-to-eye with voters. He told The Hill by way of example that Levin’s staunch opposition to immigration reform is not in line with polling of Republican voters, who by and large are open to reform.
According to Norquist, the idea is to have a Republican ask questions tailored to the Republican mindset with the goal of providing them the information they need to make an informed decision when they head to the polls on primary day.
He suggested using actual elected Republicans or other Republican officials. Another Norquist idea is to bring in various experts to ask questions pertaining to their areas of expertise.
Norquist is not sold on the idea that network news figures make the best moderators. He questioned whether they were as neutral as they generally claim to be, adding that to his prior argument that strict neutrality is not something to seek in a primary debate anyway.