Seething GOP candidates escalate their CNBC grievances

CNBC under fire for GOP debate
CNBC under fire for GOP debate

The Republican presidential candidates are not letting up on CNBC.

Still chafing at the network's handling of Wednesday night's debate, representatives from the campaigns are planning to take their grievances to the Republican National Committee, campaign sources told CNN.

Ben Carson even told reporters on Thursday that he would be demanding a new debate format and was reaching out to the other Republican candidates in an attempt to force changes in the next debate.

‎"We need a change of format," Carson said during a press conference in Lakewood, Colorado. "Debates are supposed to be to get to know the candidates, what is behind them. What it has turned into is a gotcha." ‎

Carson declined to specify exactly what changes he would ask for, but said his campaign was reaching out to the other campaigns to "lay out a plan" going forward for a new format.

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The two hour long CNBC debate was moderated by Carl Quintanilla, John Harwood and Becky Quick.

Sources with other campaigns told CNN that they intend to vocalize their concerns. The goal, they said, is to ensure that moderators at the next debate -- hosted by the Fox Business Network on November 10 -- focus on more substantive issues, skip the "gotcha" questions, and provide all candidates with more equal speaking time.

"We thought CNBC did a horrendous job and a disservice, and we agree with the RNC that they should be ashamed of themselves," Sergio Gor, a spokesman for Senator Rand Paul, told CNNMoney early Thursday morning.

The campaigns initially intended to address the issue on a conference call with the RNC. However, the RNC decided Thursday that it would instead opt for one-on-one calls with each campaign because previous group calls had become too unruly.

Related: CNBC's debate fell well short of Fox and CNN in the ratings

Either way, the campaigns are likely to find a sympathetic ear with RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who has expressed his "disappointment" with CNBC.

"CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled," Priebus said in a statement, pledging that he would "fight to ensure future debates allow for a more robust exchange."

The next debate will be televised by the Fox Business Network on November 10.

Related: Fox's message after CNBC's debate is "we'll do it better"

Meanwhile, Republican candidates took to the airwaves Thursday morning and continued to criticize CNBC for the tone and substance of the debate.

In an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day," Senator Marco Rubio slammed the moderators' questions and said he hoped future debates would do a better job of focusing on the issues.

Later in the show, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told Alisyn Camerota that he was going to keep standing up to debate moderators. "I'm not going to allow them to ask stupid questions," he said.

Those attacks echoed the litany of criticisms lobbed at CNBC's moderators.

Senator Ted Cruz accused the moderators of trying to instigate a cage match. Donald Trump slammed the "ridiculous questions," and Christie grew visibly irate at the moderators' decision to discuss fantasy football instead of other issues.

"Wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and al-Qaeda attacking us and we're talking about fantasy football?" Christie shouted. "Can we stop?"

Off stage, at least, things were more civil.

On Thursday morning, CNBC's John Harwood, a co-moderator, tweeted a picture of himself with Christie. Both men were smiling.

"Fun [with] guy who just ripped me on TV," Harwood wrote.

He also tweeted that moderating the debate "enriched my understanding of challenges Speaker Boehner has faced and Rep. Paul Ryan will face."


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