President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for the first presidential debate to be moved up because it’s scheduled 35 days before the election and said early voting in many states means many Americans will cast ballots before the face-to-face contests between the two candidates even begin.
“The one problem I have, the debate’s very late. It’s at the end of September and a lot of ballots will already be cast by that time,” Trump said in a “Fox & Friends” interview. “Why are they putting the first debate so late? The first debate should be before the first – at least before the first ballots go out. And they have it a month later, almost a month later. It’s ridiculous.”
The key swing state of Michigan, for example, allows residents to submit ballots 45 days before the election. Virginians can also vote in-person at their local registrar’s office at that time, and in Minnesota, another swing state, early voting begins Sept. 18.
Trump also addressed the number of debates, of which there are others scheduled on Oct. 15 and 22. “I wouldn’t mind more,” Trump said, but added, “What’s more important to me is the first debate be moved up so that when people are putting in their first ballot they’re gonna know.”
Some prominent Democrats have urged Joe Biden to bail out of the debates. Joe Lockhart, a former press secretary for Bill Clinton, was among the first to say that Biden, who has already agreed to appear at the three debates, shouldn’t show up.
“Whatever you do, don’t debate Trump,” the CNN contributor wrote last week in an op-ed piece for the news site. “Trump has made more than 20,000 misleading or false statements according to the Washington Post. It’s a fool’s errand to enter the ring with someone who can’t follow the rules or the truth. Biden will undoubtedly take heat from Republicans and the media for skipping the debates. But it’s worth the risk as trying to debate someone incapable of telling the truth is an impossible contest to win.”
Zac Petkanas, a former Hillary Clinton senior adviser, wrote on Twitter last week that Biden can skip the debates because Trump is not a “legitimate candidate,” and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said last month that Biden should debate Trump only if the president releases his tax returns and agrees to a real-time fact-check by an independent group during the debates.
“In all fairness to him, he has not said that,” Trump said of Biden.
Jill Biden appeared Tuesday on Fox News and said her husband will debate.
“Wondering if you can settle this for us: will the former vice president debate President Trump this fall?” host Dana Perino asked her. To which she responded, “Oh yes, he will. I think they’ve already — I think there’s three debates they’ve decided on. So, yes. He will be there.”