The Trump campaign called for the presidential debate schedule to return to normal after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced it would go virtual for the second event, due to President Donald Trump’s doctor writing that Trump should be clear to return to normal activities on Saturday, ten days after his COVID-19 diagnosis.
“President Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, says the President will be medically cleared for ‘safe return to public engagements’ by Saturday, five full days before the originally scheduled debate in Miami on October 15. There is therefore no medical reason why the Commission on Presidential Debates should shift the debate to a virtual setting, postpone it, or otherwise alter it in anyway,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement Thursday evening.
“CPD Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf admits that they consulted with no one before unilaterally changing the format of a debate, well in advance of any knowledge of what the President’s condition would be on debate night. The commission must stop protecting Joe Biden from this in-person debate and allow the event to proceed as it was agreed to months ago. The American people can see through this obvious attempt to shield Biden from another shellacking like he got two weeks ago in Cleveland and the CPD must reverse course and let the debate proceed,” concluded Stepien.
Since the announcement Thursday morning, the Biden and Trump campaigns have exchanged a series of statements that have complicated the debate commission’s plan for a virtual debate, with the parameters of the debate becoming a topic of debate themselves.
With the original presidential debate schedule, the campaigns had agreed to host a town hall-style event on October 15, the second of three contests with both nominees. But when the commission announced the event would go virtual, disagreement ensued.
“President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace and everybody knows it. For the swamp at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic. That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done,” said Stepien.
The Trump campaign manager emphasized that, by the time of the second event, the president “will have posted multiple negative tests,” and the safety of everyone involved in the Miami event could be “easily guaranteed.” Stepien concluded by saying the Trump campaign would “pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”
In response to the Trump campaign’s first statement, Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager to Biden, accused Trump of not wanting to face “questions from the voters about his failures on COVID and the economy.”
“As a result, Joe Biden will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks. Given the president’s refusal to participate in October 15th, we hope the Debate Commission will move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22nd, so that the President is not able to evade accountability,” said Bedingfield.
In a seeming point of agreement, the Trump campaign responded to the Biden campaign by saying that a presidential town hall-style debate should be held October 22.
But the Trump campaign also proposed changing the October 22 debate, which was on the original calendar as the third debate, to be the second debate, but also adding another event with both nominees on October 29.
“The CPD and the media cannot hide Joe Biden forever,” said Stepien in the campaign’s statement. “Americans deserve to hear directly from both presidential candidates on these dates, October 22 and 29.”
The Biden campaign responded: “Donald Trump doesn’t make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does. We accepted the three dates — September 29, Oct. 15, and Oct. 22 — in June. 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 is already 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 now has a town hall-style event scheduled for October 15 with ABC News, without Trump. The Associated Press reports that the chairman of the debate commission doesn’t plan on changing the virtual status of the October 15 debate—which he said was designed to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the event. As such, the October 15 debate will now not likely happen, reports AP.
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