In a tweet posted Thursday, President Trump called for the date of the first presidential debate to be moved up because voters are casting their ballots early due to the pandemic, one day after his campaign formally issued a request for a debate date change and as Trump campaign officials continue to baselessly accuse Joe Biden of ducking the debates.
“Move the First Debate up,” Trump said in a message on Twitter:
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, sent a formal request to the Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday to move the final presidential debate to the first week in September, Axios first reported.
The Biden campaign recently agreed to a plan for the presumptive Democratic nominee to debate Trump three times, with the first debate scheduled for September 29, followed by October 15 and October 22 (Biden’s vice president pick and Vice President Pence are scheduled to square off in a debate on October 7).
Trump and his campaign have argued September 29 is too far out because many voters will be submitting their ballots early this year due to the pandemic.
Guiliani argues that as many as “eight million Americans in 16 states will have already started voting” by the date of the first debate.
The campaign has also alleged that Biden is ducking the debates, though the former vice president has said he “can hardly wait” to debate Trump and “compare [his] cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”
“Simply put, the Commission’s current approach is an outdated dinosaur and not reflective of voting realities in 2020,” Giuliani wrote in his letter.
As part of a ploy to paint Biden as a mentally unstable candidate who won’t leave his basement, Trump campaign staff have alleged the former vice president is dodging the chance to debate Trump. Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, told Axios the campaign is “convinced” Biden will “try to weasel out of debates” after canceling his in-person convention speech in Wisconsin. Several political commentators have suggested Biden should not debate Trump, arguing the president will break the rules. But Biden campaign staff have stated repeatedly Biden is committed to debating the president.
“Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump,” former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart wrote in an op-ed on CNN, adding it would be “a fool’s errand to enter the ring with someone who can’t follow the rules or the truth.”
What to watch for
The Trump campaign is also petitioning for a fourth debate, though it’s not clear if Biden would agree to one.
Trump campaign wants a fourth debate with Biden added in early September (Washington Post)