Trump team to press for more debates against Biden
President Trump’s reelection campaign is seeking to wield more influence over the fall presidential debates, drafting former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani to lead an effort to push for more debates and for the campaign to have a say in who moderates them.
The Commission on Presidential Debates has so far scheduled four debates: three between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and one between Vice President Pence and whomever emerges as Biden’s running mate.
The Trump campaign has seized on the idea that the more Biden appears in the spotlight, the more likely he is to let slip potentially damaging gaffes. If more debates are held, the thinking among Republicans goes, the more opportunities there will be for Biden to mess up.
The effort by the Trump campaign to expand the debate schedule was first reported on Thursday by Politico. A Trump campaign source confirmed the plans to The Hill.
Among the other concessions that the Trump campaign hopes to secure from the Commission on Presidential Debates is a say in who will moderate each debate. Campaign officials also want the debates to be held on weeknights other than Thursday to avoid coinciding with NFL games.
Trump has long complained about presidential debates and the commission charged with overseeing them. He considered the possibility of skipping the fall debates altogether because of his misgivings about the commission and concerns that he will face unfavorable moderators during the events.
But Trump has found himself playing defense in recent weeks, facing criticism over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout that stemmed from it, as well as the recent protests over racial injustice and police brutality.
Recent polls — both at the national and state levels — show his support slipping, including in battleground states that he sees as crucial to his reelection. His campaign believes, however, that holding more debates in the fall may give him a leg up on Biden.