The Trump campaign on Thursday bashed the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) for announcing plans to make the second debate virtual, calling the timing “extremely suspect.”
“The American people should not be deprived of the chance to see the two candidates for president debate face to face two more times just because the Commission on Presidential Debates wants to protect Joe Biden,” said Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 campaign manager. “It remains extremely suspect that the CPD announced the brand new virtual format at 7:30am ET today immediately after Vice President Mike Pence had just wiped the floor with Senator Kamala Harris.”
“Clearly the commission wanted to shift attention away from Pence’s complete victory. 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,” Stepien said. “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,” Trump’s campaign manager said.
On Thursday morning, the CPD posted a statement on its website. “In order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15, 2020, The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced the following today: The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations. The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate.”
In a statement immediately after the CPD made its announcement, Stepien said: “President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everybody knows it,” Stepien said in the statement. “For the swamp creatures 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.”
“Here are the facts: President Trump will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate, so there is no need for this unilateral declaration,” he continued. “The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head. We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and hold a rally instead.”
Trump reacted to the news during a live interview on Fox Business with host Maria Bartiromo moments after the commission’s statement was released. “I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said. “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate is ridiculous.”
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