Biden campaign commits to three debates against Trump

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE’s campaign is committing to participate in three debates in the fall, while President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE’s campaign is pushing for four events. 

Biden’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, confirmed in a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates sent Monday and obtained by The Washington Post that the former vice president would debate Trump on the dates previously scheduled by the commission — Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22.

Biden’s running mate, who has not yet been announced, will debate Vice President Pence on Oct. 7, O’Malley Dillon also confirmed in the campaign’s first official communication with the commission. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“Joe Biden looks forward to facing Donald Trump in a multi-debate series that the American people have come to expect from their leaders; we hope that President Trump would not break that tradition or make excuses for a refusal to participate,” O’Malley Dillon wrote.

O’Malley Dillon requested that the commission confirm that the debates would accommodate coronavirus concerns and implement social-distancing practices. She also asked that one of the presidential debates be held in a town hall format, so voters can ask the candidates questions directly.

Biden’s commitment to the debates comes days after several Trump aides, including his personal lawyer, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump sues Jan. 6 panel to block records Lawmakers pay tribute to Colin Powell Book Trump signed for Giuliani fetches K at auction: 'I promise never to run against you' MORE, started advocating for another debate and to conduct them earlier in the day than usual. 

"An earlier and longer debate schedule is necessary so Americans can see the clear difference between President Trump’s vibrant leadership and Biden’s confused meandering," Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.

“It’s pretty obvious that Joe Biden’s handlers are afraid to send their candidate out without a script and teleprompter handy," he said, adding "Americans deserve better.”    

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump campaign manager Brad ParscaleBrad ParscaleAides tried to get Trump to stop attacking McCain in hopes of clinching Arizona: report MORE said last week that the aides don't want the debates to compete with football games.

“We want fair debates. We want them sooner, and we want a bigger schedule,” Parscale said in a statement.

“As many Americans as possible need to see the stark differences between the accomplishments and leadership of President Trump and the failed record and sleepiness of Joe Biden,” he added.

O’Malley Dillon in her letter on Monday labeled the push for change a "distraction” and called for the debates to be held as they have in the past. 

“The Trump position seems to be saying that he will debate if he can pick the moderators: clearly the President, who largely conducts interviews only with favorable news outlets, is afraid of facing questions from a neutral moderator,” she wrote. “The Trump campaign proposal for elaborate negotiations is merely an effort to dodge fair, even-handed debates.”

Trump indicated earlier this year that he might not go to the debates. But his campaign has shifted, as Trump has struggled to keep up with Biden in recent polls.

Frank Fahrenkopf, a chairman of the debate commission, said last week that if both campaigns agreed to a fourth debate, the group would do what it could to put it together, the Post noted.