After recently edging out Donald Trump as the front-runner in the Republican presidential race, Ben Carson was not happy with how Wednesday night’s presidential debate went down. He called Thursday for changes to future Republican presidential debate formats, the Hill reported.
Carson’s desired changes focused on the speaking time allotted to candidates and on the moderators, who he said should be “interested in actually getting the facts and not gotcha questions.” The CNBC debate Wednesday night in Colorado featured six moderators who received criticism from candidates, political strategists and other journalists alike.
“I’ve asked my staff to reach out to the other campaigns to talk about a change in format,” Carson told reporters in Denver before a campaign speech at Colorado Christian University, according to the Hill. “And we’re looking for an opportunity to actually be able to explain what your program is, what your philosophy for leadership is and then be questioned about it.”
Several candidates, including Carson, criticized CNBC’s moderators during the debate Wednesday. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz appeared particularly angry, at one point using his turn to answer a question to instead criticize the questions moderators had posed to other candidates. “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media,” Cruz said to resounding applause.
Carson said Thursday he thought Cruz’s criticism of the moderators drew attention to what many of the candidates on the stage saw as a problem. “I think the Cruz missile helped. That was excellent. It was a good way to use a Cruz missile,” Carson said.
Carson fared alright in the debate, although he was not as prominent a presence as he was in the first two debates of the season. He ended the evening having spoken a total of seven minutes and two seconds, which put him third from the bottom in speaking time, according to NPR. He also sparred with the CNBC moderators, who questioned the math on his tax plan and his ties to controversial nutritional supplement company Mannatech.
“It’s not about me and gotcha questions, it’s about the American people and whether they have the right to actually hear what we think,” Carson said Thursday.
Carson remains in second place in the Real Clear Politics polling average, hovering at 22 percent. But in a New York Times/CBS News survey released Tuesday, he registered 26 percent support from Republican primary voters nationally, beating out Trump at 22 percent. He said Thursday that he hopes the backlash after this week’s debate will serve as a “very important moment in American politics,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
“What it’s turned into is a ‘Gotcha!’ ” Carson said. “And that’s not really helpful for anybody.”