President Trump and his top campaign aides on Thursday voiced opposition to changing the current presidential debate structure as the nonpartisan commission overseeing the events considers adjustments.

“Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?” Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon while traveling to a fundraiser in Bedminster, N.J.

During a later press call with reporters, Trump campaign aides said that they do not want any changes to the current debate structure, one day after the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said it was exploring potential changes to better maintain orderly discussion following Tuesday evening’s chaotic debate. They also accused the commission of favoring Democratic nominee Joe Biden in considering the adjustments.

“There shouldn’t be any changes. We do not want any changes. This is purely a move by the Biden camp and their allies in the CPD,” said senior Trump campaign aide Jason Miller.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien also argued that the commission cannot describe itself as “nonpartisan” because certain members of its leadership have contributed to Democrats or expressed criticism of Trump, furthering the argument that the commission’s decisions were meant to assist Biden.

The president’s comments on Thursday suggest that Trump could decline to participate in the forthcoming two debates if the commission moves forward with changing the rules.

Miller, however, told reporters that Trump “fully plans” on participating in the coming debates when asked whether he would show up even if the changes were implemented.

“President Trump fully plans on participating in and winning both the second and third debates,” Miller said. “So, we feel very confident, but there should not be any changes to what has been agreed to and set out.”

Trump has insisted he “easily” won the debate in Cleveland Tuesday evening, despite Republicans criticizing his performance and public polls from CNN and CBS News showing that voters believed Biden won the contest. Trump aides have pointed to online viewer surveys, such as polls from CSPAN and, showing the president winning.

The debate, the first of three, was extremely chaotic, with frequent interruptions and personal jabs that overshadowed any real policy debate. Trump repeatedly interrupted both Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, who struggled to maintain control of the debate.

In response, the commission said Wednesday that it would consider changes to future debates to help maintain order. The commission is reportedly weighing a rule that would mute either candidates’ microphone if he does not follow the rules.

“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the commission said in a statement. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.” 

The Trump campaign claimed Thursday that Biden’s team suggested specific changes to the commission, including a mute option for the candidates’ microphones and limiting open discussion.

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement that the former vice president would adhere to the CPD’s rules, but did not directly comment on any discussions about potential changes.  

“We are running our campaign, not running the debates. Since June, we have consistently said we would participate in all three debates, under rules that the CPD established. Only the Trump campaign has been erratic and chaotic in their approach to this, demanding control over the selection of moderators, changes in the dates of the debates, an ear canal inspection rule, and all sorts of other insanity,” Bates said.

“Perhaps if the President and his team spent as much time worrying about the country as they do about debate rules, he would not be trailing and would not have engaged in the desperate, out-of-control behavior — emblematic of his tenure — that he showed on Tuesday night,” Bates continued. “Our position is clear:  we will participate under the CPD’s rules. The only real question left is whether the President will start following the rules in the next two debates.”

The developments add a new layer of uncertainty in the final five weeks of the presidential election contest, as polls show Biden leading Trump in national and key swing state polls.

Republicans have described Trump’s performance as a missed opportunity to draw a clear contrast with Biden. Republicans have also been particularly critical of the Trump’s sidestepping of a question about condemning white supremacy, which the White House has sought to clean up in subsequent days.

The next debates are scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. The vice presidential debate is scheduled for next Wednesday. 

Updated: 4:58 p.m.

Tags Chris Wallace Debate Donald Trump Joe Biden Ronna McDaniel

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