Frustrated Republicans Contemplate Changes to Debate Setup

WASHINGTON (AP) -

Republican candidates frustrated by their party’s presidential debates are contemplating changes to those remaining on the nomination calendar, even beyond the GOP chairman’s decision to suspend a partnership with NBC News and its properties on a debate set for February.

The complaints prompted a private meeting Sunday night in Washington, organized by Ben Carson’s campaign, with representatives from more than a dozen campaigns expected to attend.

The most recent debate, moderated by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, on Wednesday night, drew the harshest criticism. Afterward, some candidates complained that the questions were not substantive enough; others wanted more air time or the chance to deliver opening and closing statements.

“We need to mature in the way that we do these debates if they’re going to be useful to the American people,” retired neurosurgeon Carson told ABC.

Three debates remain before the first nomination contest, the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1; the next one is scheduled for Nov. 10 in Las Vegas. The RNC has sanctioned five debates after the caucuses.