The former vice president’s campaign rebuked Trump for trying to move the final two debates, currently slated for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22, to Oct. 22 and Oct. 29, saying the president was shirking his chance to debate next week after he pulled out of the town hall-style debate once the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said it would be held virtually.
“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. 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,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager.
“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 statement marked the latest salvo in a whirlwind back-and-forth between the campaigns and the CPD over the timing and format of the next presidential debates.
The CPD announced Thursday morning that the Oct. 15 matchup, which is set to be in a town hall format, would be held virtually amid concerns over the coronavirus after Trump’s positive test result. Trump fired back, saying he would not participate in such an event, and his campaign followed up by saying it would instead hold a rally.
The Biden campaign responded by saying the former vice president would “find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th” and asking the CPD to “move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22nd, so that the President is not able to evade accountability.”
That prompted the Trump campaign to suggest a postponement of both debates, with the third taking place on Oct. 29, in order to ensure three matchups are still held in total.
“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 CPD typically negotiates with both campaigns to determine the rules and formats for the debates.
Speculation over whether more debates would even be held kicked into overdrive last Friday after Trump announced he’d tested positive for the coronavirus.
“I think if he still has COVID, we shouldn’t have a debate,” Biden said Thursday, though he added that he would be guided by “what the docs say is the right thing to do.”