The Republican National Committee, already threatening to block CNN and NBC from hosting 2016 primary debates if they air planned features on Hillary Clinton, is also looking to scrap the old model of having reporters and news personalities ask the questions at candidate forums.
Miffed that their candidates were singled out for personal questions or CNN John King's "This or That," when he asked candidates quirky questions like "Elvis or Johnny Cash," GOP insiders tell Secrets that they are considering other choices, even a heavyweight panel of radio bigs Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.
They told Secrets that they are eager to bring in questioners who understand Republican policies and beliefs and who have the ability to get candidates to differentiate their positions on core conservative values.
The move comes as several conservatives are pressuring the party to have Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin ask the debate questions. "It makes a lot of sense. We'd get a huge viewership, they'd make a lot of news and maybe have some fun too," said one of the advocates of the radio trio hosting debates.
The idea took on life when RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer was asked about debate hosting during a Sirius XM radio interview last week. "Mark Levin should ask the questions," Spicer said, according to Breitbart news. That way, he said, grassroots conservatives would have a debate questioner who thinks like them.
Party boss Reince Priebus earlier this month also told conservative radio's fast-rising star Andrea Tantaros that he would be open to a talk radio debate including her, Hannity and Levin. "I actually think that's a very good idea," Priebus said on the Andrea Tantaros Show. "I mean, there's a lot of good people out there that can actually understand the base of the Republican Party, the primary voters."
Potential candidates, however, might have a problem with the developing plan. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for example, is a target of Levin, who this week told Fox that he will urge voters to reject the moderate Republican. "I will do everything I can, in my little way, to make sure he is not the nominee," Levin told Neil Cavuto.
Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.