The debate over debates has grown more fierce after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that it was canceling the second debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Now, the Trump campaign has issued a challenge to the Biden camp: Hold the debate without the commission.
After Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, the commission stated that the second debate, which would have been a town hall-style event, would be held virtually due to health concerns. President Trump declared that he was unwilling to participate in a debate over the internet.
Andrew Bates, the Biden campaign’s rapid response director, released a statement on Friday evening castigating the president for refusing to participate in the virtual event. “It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which voters get to ask the questions—but it’s no surprise,” he said. “Everyone knows that Donald Trump likes to bully reporters, but obviously he doesn’t have the guts to answer for his record to voters at the same time as Vice President Biden.”
The commission’s decision means that no official debate will occur on October 15. But Trump’s campaign responded to the Biden campaign’s taunt by suggesting that the two candidates duke it out without the commission. On Friday evening, Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said:
“There is no medical reason to stop the October 15 debate in Miami from proceeding as scheduled, since the President will be healthy and ready to debate. There is also no reason there shouldn’t be the three total presidential debates as Joe Biden had originally agreed. We have suggested using October 22 and October 29 to hold the final two debates. It’s time for the biased commission to stop protecting Biden and preventing voters from hearing from the two candidates for president.”
In a thinly-veiled jab at the commission, Murtaugh added, “There’s nothing that says that President Trump and Joe Biden can’t debate together without the overlords at the commission having a say in the matter. We would be glad to debate one-on-one without the commission’s interference.”
In a tweet showing Trump’s statement on the debate, Murtaugh wrote:
“There’s no medical reason to stop the Oct. 15 debate from proceeding as scheduled, since the President will be healthy and ready to debate.
It’s time for the biased commission to stop protecting Biden & preventing voters from hearing from the 2 candidates for president.”
As RedState’s Scott Hounsell reported on Friday, the debate commission opted to cancel the debate, blaming Trump for refusing to participate in a virtual event. However, Hounsell pointed out that Biden had also refused to engage in an in-person debate. He wrote:
“This wasn’t a one-sided back out either. Remember that Biden said he would not participate if Trump was there in person. Now that Trump said he wouldn’t agree to the virtual format, it is Trump that backed out? Trump wanted to do the original debate. How is that “running scared?” Trump was clear that he would participate. Biden, on the other hand, has only agreed to debates where the moderators are supporting him.”
It is doubtful that Biden would actually agree to a debate in which he would not be assisted by moderators picked by the commission. In the first event, Trump rightly noted that he was debating both Biden and moderator Chris Wallace. It is impossible not to believe that this same scenario would have played out in the second debate as well.
As it stands, the third debate is still expected to happen. But for the time being, it appears that the public will only get to see the two candidates go head-to-head twice.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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