In the middle of the CNBC-hosted GOP debate on Wednesday, RNC chief strategist and spokesman Sean Spicer and chief of staff Katie Walsh approached CNBC officials. According to a source familiar with the encounter, the two had a complaint: Jeb Bush wasn’t getting enough questions.
The same complaint had come from Bush campaign manager Danny Diaz, though Bush spokesperson Tim Miller said he was not aware of the encounter between the RNC officials and CNBC. The source familiar with the encounter said Spicer and Walsh did not bring up any other candidates.
Spicer did not respond to a request for comment about the encounter.
Devil’s advocate, just for a second: Is it possible that Jeb really wasn’t getting enough questions? He’s fourth in many polls. He should be getting a healthy amount of speaking time at these things. And yet, according to Time magazine’s measure, he got less than anyone except Rand Paul, who’s an afterthought in the race.
Maybe Bush really did get shafted. But wait — who’s that right above him, third to last in speaking time? Why, it’s Ben Carson, the new frontrunner in Iowa and a guy who’s now polling above 20 percent in various national polls. If Bush got shafted, Carson got royally shafted. Did the RNC intervene on his behalf? If not, how come?
And do note, different media outlets recorded different amounts of speaking time. Don’t ask me how Time’s numbers can differ so sharply from ABC’s, but here’s what the latter found:
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 29, 2015
By that metric, Bush did pretty well. It’s Carson, again, who got cheated and John Kasich who benefited. Did the RNC complain that the ostentatiously centrist, Republican-bashing Kasich was getting too much airtime? There has to be a sound reason for why they were specially attuned to Jeb’s plight. Because if there isn’t, cynics might be tempted to conclude that the RNC was desperately trying to create an opportunity for the donor class’s fair-haired boy to clean up his mess after he sh*t the bed in his exchange with Rubio. That would reek of collusion with the Bush campaign to push a lackluster establishment candidate on an electorate that’s clearly not interested in him. And collusion in a cycle like this, when Trump is leading because Republicans have come to view their leaders in Washington as sleazy cronies who have rigged the game for their friends’ benefit, would be a deadly PR fiasco for the RNC. So it can’t be that that’s happening. What’s happening then?
Exit quotation via Rubio’s Super PAC: “When you consider all angles, as we do, we believe there are really only four candidates with a reasonable chance of becoming the Republican nominee: Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Senator Ted Cruz.”
Update: Well, well. Politico has suddenly changed its story. The above passage now reads this way:
In the middle of the CNBC-hosted GOP debate on Wednesday, RNC chief strategist and spokesman Sean Spicer and chief of staff Katie Walsh approached CNBC officials about the amount of speaking time candidates were getting.
“Several campaigns had a concern about time allotments, we approached CNBC on multiple occasions to give us a read out of times as they promised and they refused,” Spicer said in a statement.
The same complaint had come from Bush campaign manager Danny Diaz, who confronted CNBC producers during the debate about Bush’s speaking time.
The only outfit that can confirm what happened is CNBC. Did the RNC intervene on behalf of multiple candidates, Jeb included? Why did Politico seem to think it was just Jeb?