Citing the massive increase expected in mail-in ballots, Donald Trump is calling for the first debate with Joe Biden, scheduled for September 29 in Cleveland, to be moved to the beginning of September.
Trump told “Fox and Friends” that it was “ridiculous” that the first debate is scheduled to be held almost a month after ballots are mailed out.
The Trump campaign sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) urging them to either move the date of the first debate to earlier in the month, or add a fourth debate to the schedule.
The Trump campaign also suggested a list of proposed moderators from which the commission could choose. The list of two-dozen people included a number of anchors from Fox News and Fox Business Network.
“Simply put, the Commission’s current approach is an outdated dinosaur and not reflective of voting realities in 2020,” Rudy Giuliani argued in the letter.
Democrats, champions of voting rights, apparently don’t think voters should have all the information before making an informed choice on their mail-in ballot.
“For a nation already deprived of a traditional campaign schedule because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it makes no sense to also deprive so many Americans of the opportunity to see and hear two competing visions for our country’s future before millions of votes are cast,” Giuliani said.
The campaign says as many as 8 million Americans will vote before the first debate if it’s not moved up.
By the time of the first presidential debate on September 29, 2020, as many as eight million Americans in 16 states will have already started voting.
The Commission on Pres. Debates needs to add a fourth debate and/or make the debates start earlier! https://t.co/FNjbILxUu9
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) August 5, 2020
In response, the Biden campaign reiterated that Joe Biden would show up on the dates chosen by the CPD and complained that Trump was trying to stack the debate with “friendly” moderators.
The Biden campaign’s Andrew Bates said in a statement in response to the request: “We have said all along, including in a letter to the commission in June, that Joe Biden will appear on the dates that the commission selected and in the locations they chose. Donald Trump has not, continually trying to insert his choice of friendly moderators, now including one who just published an op-ed offering ‘the case’ for Trump’s reelection. Joe Biden will be there. We await Donald Trump’s decision — and perhaps the president should put as much time into managing COVID as he does into this.”
The complaint about “friendly” moderators from Fox is surely a joke. What’s more dishonest? Recommending moderators who aren’t hysterically anti-Trump and making no secret of that fact, or recommending moderators who try to hide their virulent anti-Trump partisanship behind a veil of “objective” media legitimacy?
Earlier in the year when Trump was in much better shape in the polls and the economy was humming, the president hedged about whether he was going to debate at all. Now the tables have turned and it’s Biden who appears to have the upper hand—and he’s in no mood to grant the Trump campaign any favors. The president is going to have to rely on TV advertising and outreach from his campaign to get his message to the voters before they make up their minds and cast a mail-in ballot.