Trump campaign asks for next debate to be delayed after refusing virtual event

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President Trump’s campaign is calling on the Commission on Presidential Debates to delay the next two debates by one week so that they can be held in person.

Trump and his campaign are furious over the commission’s decision to announce next week’s debate would be virtual, rather than in-person, as the president recovers from the coronavirus.

Trump says he will not participate in a virtual event, which is scheduled for next Oct. 15. The final of the three scheduled debates is set for Oct. 22.

In a new statement, the Trump campaign said the president would participate if they are both pushed back a week and held in person.

“As President Trump said, a virtual debate is a non-starter and would clearly be a gift to Biden because he would be relying on his teleprompter from his basement bunker,” said Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. “Voters should have the opportunity to directly question Biden’s 47-year failed record of leadership. We agree that this should happen on October 22, and accordingly, the third debate should then be shifted back one week to October 29. The CPD and the media cannot hide Joe Biden forever. Americans deserve to hear directly from both presidential candidates on these dates, October 22 and 29.” 

The commission generally negotiates with both campaigns to determine the rules and formats for the debates.

The Trump campaign says they were not consulted before the commission changed the format to be a virtual debate. Stepien blasted the organization in a statement, accusing them of trying to “protect” Biden.

“The American people should not be deprived of the chance to see the two candidates for president debate face to face two more times just because the Commission on Presidential Debates wants to protect Joe Biden,” Stepien said. “It remains extremely suspect that the CPD announced the brand new virtual format at 7:30am ET today immediately after Vice President Mike Pence had just wiped the floor with Senator Kamala Harris. Clearly the commission wanted to shift attention away from Pence’s complete victory.”

The Biden campaign shot down the idea of delaying the debates.

“Donald Trump doesn’t make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does. We accepted the three dates — Sept. 29, Oct. 15, and Oct. 22 — in June,” said campaign manager Kate Bedingfield. “Trump chose today to pull out of the October 15th debate. Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing. We look forward to participating in the final debate, scheduled for October 22, which already is tied for the latest debate date in 40 years. Donald Trump can show up, or he can decline again. That’s his choice.”

The Biden campaign has also said that if there is no town-hall debate on Oct. 15 as planned, the Oct. 22 debate should be changed to a town-hall style debate.

The Hill has reached out to the commission for comment.

Tags Bill Stepien Donald Trump Joe Biden Mike Pence Presidential Debate
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