NEW YORK -- Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson informed CNBC in a letter Thursday that they will not participate in the network's Oct. 28 Republican debate unless it agrees to limit the length to two hours and give the candidates the opportunity to make opening and closing statements.
“Both our campaigns hope that you will agree with these very reasonable format changes so that CNBC may present all the Republican candidates to your audience," Trump and Carson wrote.
Trump, who has complained in the past about last month's three-hour debate on CNN, took aim at the next debate's TV sponsor on Twitter:
The Trump-Carson letter, first published by NBC, surfaced as Politico reported how a Republican National Committee conference call the previous day had "spiraled into chaos" as campaign aides raised questions about the debate criteria.
An RNC spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNBC did not comment specifically on Trump and Carson's letter, but in a statement, said the network's "goal is to host the most substantive debate possible."
"Our practice in the past has been to forego opening statements to allow more time to address the critical issues that matter most to the American people," the statement read. "We started a dialogue yesterday with all of the campaigns involved and we will certainly take the candidates’ views on the format into consideration as we finalize the debate structure."
Television executives surely don't want a Trump-less debate. The first two Republican debates this election cycle drew massive ratings for Fox News and CNN, with 24 and 23.1 million viewers tuning in, respectively.
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