It was during one of those debates in 2012 that CNN moderator Candy Crowley had to jump in to save incumbent Barack Obama from GOP challenger Mitt Romney:
Romney: It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
Obama: Get the transcript.
Crowley: He did in fact, sir, call it an act of terror.
Obama: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
Four years later, the bias went into overdrive during Donald Trump's debates with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
The Republican National Committee has had enough. In a letter to the supposedly non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, the RNC is threatening to boycott any debate organized by the Commission, unless it has more of a say about who's asking the questions – among other things.
Gary Bauer of American Values says it's risky, but worth it. "I think this is sort of a bargaining move. It's a strong one [and] it's serious," he argues. "The RNC can't back down now if they don't get any kind of response. But I think it's the right thing to do."
Given the quality of candidates the Democrats have in the game – or on the bench – one might think the party would jump at a chance to keep a Joe Biden or a Kamala Harris as far away from the debate stage as possible. But Bauer contends scoring points at a debate is the best way to swing momentum towards a floundering candidate.
"If I put myself in the shoes of Joe Biden, whose approval rating is at 33% yesterday; or Kamala Harris, whose approval rating apparently is designed to make Joe Biden's look good – I think, unless something changes, they will want those presidential debates," he tells AFN.
In the January 13 letter, RNC chairman Ronna McDaniel accuses the Commission of intentionally "stonewalling" on any reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the Republican Party.