CBSN

Bush, Cruz won't sign list of campaign debate demands

Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz are the latest Republican candidates to declare they wouldn't sign a letter of demands, drafted by a group of 14 campaigns, for networks hosting future primary debates.

The two join the ranks of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Chris Christie, who have all said they would not sign on.

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Bush seemed to dismiss debate concerns, saying, "I'm a big boy. As long as the rules are established and everybody plays by the rules, I'll be OK."

For Cruz, the Texas Republican said in an interview with Fox News that he simply wasn't "interested in signing letters."

"I'm happy to have as many debates as we can," he said in an interview Wednesday. "I'm happy to debate anywhere, anytime. And I don't think we ought to have candidates complaining, 'we don't want hard questions,' 'we want to limit the number of debates.' I don't want to be a part of that."

The list of conditions came about as the result of a Sunday meeting with nearly all Republican campaigns, who said they wanted to take control of future debates away from the Republican National Committee (RNC).

Bary Bennett, Ben Carson's campaign manager and a leading push for the debate demands, said, "The RNC is a partner. They are just not our boss."

The initial letter, circulated by elections attorney Ben Ginsberg after working with several campaigns, included demands for pre-approving on-screen graphics, a minimum 30 seconds of opening statements allotted to each candidate, and an equal number of questions asked of everyone on the debate stage.

The campaigns also asked that the RNC enact a policy of giving candidates information about the debate format in a more timely manner.

But several campaigns later backtracked on the possible stipulations, saying they would rather negotiate individually with the hosting television networks.

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski likened the new strategy to their conversations with networks before the third GOP debate in October, telling CBS News that "it's no different than what we did with CNBC. We partnered with Carson and negotiated directly with the media."

On Tuesday, Trump said of the debate: "I want a room. I want a podium, and let's get going because I don't really care that much."

In an email to Ginsberg, the Fiorina campaign noted that "we have consistently and successfully discussed our concerns with the networks and the voters--and not behind closed doors like the political class seems to like to do."

They added: "We do not care whether it's 67 degrees or our green room isn't as plush as another candidate."

When questioned about why he would not put his name to the list of demands, Christie told Fox News, "because it's stupid."

Ginsberg sent out another abbreviated draft of demands later, which Ben Carson's campaign told other candidates on Tuesday he would sign. Carson also asked his fellow GOP contenders to pledge their support. The abbreviated letter, according to Politico, lists demands for the future networks hosting debates, including concerns on format, qualification, and site.

CBS News' Erica Brown and Steve Chaggaris contributed to this report.