Former Obama campaign chief David Axelrod said that the Republican party is trying to push Republican conservatives off of the debate stage in 2016 with the RNC’s resolution to exclude NBC and CNN from the debates.

Axelrod was asked about Rand Paul’s dissent from the debate plan promoted by the RNC’s Reince Priebus.

“Not surprising to me that Paul disagreed because the whole idea here, I think on the part of the leadership is to cut down the number of debates,” Axelrod explained, pointing out that in 2012 the debates helped Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum gain momentum.

“They want as few debates as they can have but that means cutting out Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and others who might benefit from those debates,” he said. “This is a move by the party establishment to shove the right off the stage and I think Paul sensed that and that is why he said what he said.”