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RNC chief doubles down on debate boycott. Smart move for GOP?

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“What channel am I going to tune into to see the documentary and the miniseries that is all about promoting Hillary Clinton? And at this point, it sounds like it’s going to be CNN and NBC. And if that’s the case, they’re not going to be involved in our debates – period,” said Priebus.

Plus, the RNC on Monday started running paid YouTube ads calling on CNN and NBC to “dump the docs or lose debates.”

“It’s basically us putting our money where our mouth is,” an RNC spokesman told Daniel Halper of The Weekly Standard.

Priebus took some heat for his “State of the Union” performance from some members of the punditocracy on Monday. They felt the RNC chief appeared taken aback by the Fox News link, as if he hadn’t heard the latest developments.

“The words ‘due diligence’ don’t necessarily go with ‘Reince Priebus’ ... in this case,” said Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

But that criticism focuses on the one-day news cycle. Here’s our question: Is the RNC debate threat a smart strategic move, in the long term?

After all, as far as the national leaders of both parties are concerned, presidential primary debates have gotten out of hand. There are too many – 20 for the GOP in the 2012 cycle. Formats generally aren’t conducive to discussion. They’re controlled by media outlets, which make money from airing them, and state parties, which make money from co-hosting debates and associated fundraisers.

If Priebus wants to cut the debate schedule to 10 to 12, as recommended by the party’s 2012 postmortem, he’s got to start exerting control over the process in some manner. The “dump the docs” effort may be a way to start to do just that.

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