The nonpartisan commission that for more than three decades has organized and hosted general election presidential debates is turning down a request by President Trump’s re-election campaign to help broker talks between Trump’s team and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign to add a fourth debate between the two candidates.
Fox News confirmed that the Commission on Presidential Debates on Friday sent a letter to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who serves as the president’s personal attorney and who has been aiding the Trump campaign in debate negotiations. In the letter, the commission declined to get involved in any discussion between the campaigns about more debates and said the two camps needed to work it out on their own.
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“We believe that any discussion pertaining to adding a debate should first be between the candidates. If an agreement is reached, they should then contact the CPD accordingly,” read the letter.
Biden’s campaign agreed a couple of months ago to three debates, which were announced last year. They are scheduled for Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Oct. 15 in Miami and Oct. 22 in Nashville. There will also be a single vice presidential debate on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
The Trump campaign has agreed to those debates, but it has been pushing in recent weeks for an extra debate, or to move the date of the first debate up earlier in September. Their request shot down earlier this month by the commission, but it said that if both campaigns agreed to an extra debate, they would consider adding one.
In a letter to the commission earlier this week, Giuliani asked for a conference call between the commission and both campaigns to begin discussing adding a fourth debate. The Trump campaign has argued that it’s imperative that the first debate between the presidential nominees be held early next month, before many states start sending out absentee ballots to voters.
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The debates being scheduled by the commission are for roughly the same time period they were held in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections when early in-person voting and absentee voting had also begun in many states.
Biden campaign national press secretary TJ Ducklo told Fox News on Friday that “as we have said since June, we are not interested in debate drama or debate distractions from the Trump campaign.”
The Biden campaign accepted the proposal for the debates proposed by, hosted by, and conducted by the non-partisan debate commission, as has every major party nominee for decades, Ducklo said.
“The last four Presidents seeking reelection found the Commission’s debates adequate to make their case for reelection,” Ducklo said. “If Donald Trump thinks he needs something different, that says more about his failed presidency than it does about the debate schedule.”
Fox News also reached out to the Trump campaign for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.