Trump campaign proposes new debate dates; Biden Campaign rejects

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President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio.

US President Donald Trump’s election campaign on Thursday proposed pushing back the dates of the remaining two presidential debates dates by a week, a move immediately rejected by the Joe Biden campaign. The Presidential debates were to be originally held on September 28, October 15 and 22.

The Trump campaign’s proposal came hours after the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said that the second debate scheduled in Miami on October 15 will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate, remote locations.

The commission cited the safety of all involved for the online event. Trump refused to participate in it, calling it a “waste of time”.

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate. I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. It’s ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want,” Trump told Fox News in a telephonic interview soon after the format changes were announced.

The Trump campaign said the dates must be changed instead of changing the format of the debate, alleging the commission wants to shift the attention from Vice President Mike Pence’s performance against challenger Kamala Harris in the vice presidential debate on Wednesday.

“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. Voters should have the opportunity to directly question Biden’s 47-year failed record of leadership,” said Bill Stepien, ‘Trump 2020’ campaign manager.

“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 commission and the media cannot hide Joe Biden forever. Americans deserve to hear directly from both presidential candidates on these dates, October 22 and 29,” Stepien said.

The Biden campaign completely dismissed the proposal.

“Donald Trump doesn’t make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does,” said ‘Biden for President’ deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield.

“We accepted the three dates September 29, October 15, and October 22 — in June. Trump chose today to pull out of the October 15th debate. Trump’s erratic behaviour does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing,” she said.

“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,” Bedingfield said.

Responding to reporters, Biden avoided a directed answer.

“I don’t know what the president is going to do. He changes his mind every second. For me to comment on that now would be irresponsible. I think that if I can follow the commission’s recommendations — if he goes off and has a rally, I’ll — I don’t know what I’ll do,” said the Democratic presidential candidate.

Trump alleged that everybody is trying to protect Biden.

“They tried to protect Biden. Everybody is. They’re trying — like that NBC disaster where he went on the show with Lester Holt. It was like it was meant for a child. It wasn’t meant for a grown person,” he said.

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