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GOP leaders worried about staging of debates

PHOENIX -- Republican Party leaders are troubled by how debates have been staged for the party's presidential contenders and are discussing taking over the events for the 2016 election cycle, a senior member of the Republican National Committee said Friday.

"We're very concerned that we really don't control the topics, the venue, the crowds, nothing," said Bruce Ash, Arizona's national committeeman and chairman of the RNC's rules committee. "The problem we're trying to fix is being able to have control over the destiny of our own party and ... how the candidates are introduced to the country."

Ash said the national committee will discuss the concerns and possible changes for 2016 at a meeting in April in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The next GOP presidential debate will be Wednesday in Mesa.

"We're going to discuss the possibility in the next election cycle of a whole new approach to how debates are broadcast, who has the rights, the formats, the venues, everything," Ash said.

Some party officials believe that some debate moderators "have an agenda" that includes ginning up controversy and dissension within the party, he said. "This has been reduced to nothing more, in some cases, to entertainment."