The campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had refused a request from the campaign of Republican President Donald Trump to hold debates in which Trump himself chooses the moderators.
The request came nearly six months after a December 2019 comment by Trump that he might not participate in any debates against Biden because of his alleged lack of confidence in the Commission of Presidential Debates.
On February 12, 2020, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he would debate the Democratic presidential nominee, stating, “Yeah, sure. I look forward to it, actually.”
In a statement, Biden’s campaign called Trump’s request a desire to “change the subject from his failed leadership.”
“We are not going to ride the roller coaster of the ever-changing Trump campaign position on debates, nor are we going to be distracted by his demands,” the Biden campaign said.
“We will make this simple,” the campaign’s statement continued. “Like every other Democratic and Republican candidate since 1992, we will show up for the debates set by the Commission on Presidential Debates… so long as Donald Trump does the same, and does not intimidate the Commission into changes from past practices.”
Among its other requests, the Trump campaign has sought to maximize viewership by asking the Commission to only hold debates only be held on weekday evenings other than Thursdays so that they don’t coincide with NFL games, according to Politico.
Thus far, the Commission has scheduled three presidential debates. The first will occur September 29 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, the second on October 15 at the University of Michigan and the last on October 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
The final two debates both are scheduled for Thursday evenings. All three debates will take place at 9 p.m. ET, and will run for 90 minutes with no commercial interruptions. The debate moderators have not yet been announced.
A vice-presidential debate is currently scheduled for October 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
“Preparation for the debates is proceeding with the sites according to schedule, including coordination with the White House pool networks which broadcast these events. In cooperation with federal agencies, the CPD will continue to monitor and assess developments regarding public health and safety as debate planning proceeds,” the Commission on Presidential Debates said in a statement given to Newsweek .
In July 2019, Trump tweeted that he came out the victor in his 2016 debates against then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. As Newsweek previously reported, the polls did not call Trump the winner. In fact, most declared Clinton as the winner by margins of 5-40 percent.
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