Trump Campaign Blasts Debate Commission for Topic Changes -- Foreign Policy out to Avoid Hunter Biden Questions

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

On Monday the Trump campaign released a letter it sent to the Presidential Commission on Debates, blasting the 11th-hour decision to alter the topics to be discussed at the debate on October 22nd.

The topics that were announced Friday night are: “Fighting COVID-19,” “American Families,” “Race in America,” “Climate Change,” “National Security” and “Leadership.”

The topics for the first debate on September 29 were: ” The Trump and Biden Records,” “The Supreme Court,” “Covid-19,” “The Economy,” “Race and Violence in our Cities,” and “The Integrity of the Election.”

“COVID-19” and “Race” are repeats from the First Debate.

The second debate, which was canceled following the Commission’s determination that it would be handled in a “virtual” format without the candidates being physically together, was to have been a “town hall” format where audience members would have decided on most topics themselves.  Bill Septien, Campaign Manager for the Trump Campaign:

“We write with great concern over the announced topics for what was always billed as the ‘Foreign Policy Debate’ in the series of events agreed to by both the Trump campaign and Biden campaign many months ago. The topics announced by moderator Kristen Welker … are serious and worthy of discussion, but only a few of them even touch on foreign policy.  Indeed, almost all of them were discussed at length during the first debate won by President Trump over moderator Chris Wallace and candidate Joe Biden. As is the long-standing custom, and as had been promised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate. We urge you to recalibrate the topics and return to subjects which had already been confirmed.”

We understand that Joe Biden is desperate to avoid conversations about his own foreign policy record, especially since President Trump has secured historic peace agreements among Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.  We recall that Biden’s former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, maintains that Biden has been ‘wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.’ Biden has supported endless wars and given aid and comfort to our adversaries, including Iran, which was delivered pallets loaded with mountains of cash just as four Americans were released from captivity in Tehran. Biden also has advanced the interests of China over his 47 years as a Washington politician, putting their concerns ahead of those of America workers.”

“New information recently revealed indicates that Biden himself was mentioned as a financial beneficiary of a deal arranged by his son Hunter and a communist Chinese-related energy company. If a major party candidate for President of the United States is compromised by the Communist Party of China, this is something Americans deserve to hear about, but it is not surprising the Biden would want to avoid it. It is completely irresponsible for the Commission to alter the focus of this final debate just days before the event, solely to insulate Biden from his own history.”

Images of the two-page letter are here and here.

The topics of the third debate were not selected in advance by the Commission, but there were no foreign policy topics included in the topics for the first debate.

Of the announced topics for the third debate, only “Leadership” and “National Security” touch on the subject, but neither really deals with the question of dealing with both friends and foes abroad, whether the issues be military, diplomacy, or trade.

This is an egregious and calculated move because Pres. Trump has been more disruptive — and as a result more successful — in these three areas than any President since Ronald Reagan.  What he shares with Reagan is a willingness to not accept the orthodoxy or conventional wisdom, and to strike out in a new direction on issues that have vexed prior administrations of both parties.

He said he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and he did it.  His administration has now engineered normalization of diplomatic relations, and formal recognition of Israel, by a series of Sunni Muslim nations in the Middle East.

He said he would take on China’s abusive trade practices, rewrite trade deals, crackdown on theft of intellectual property,  and prosecute Chinese business espionage.  He used US trade policy in the form of tariffs to leverage concessions from the Chinese.   There might not be universal agreement with his methods, but there is no denying that he took bold actions vis-a-vis the Chinese that no other President has taken.

Finally, he has “bucked” the military establishment by continually pushing the Defense Department for more substantive plans for the removal of US military forces from Afghanistan after 19 years based on his view that the benefits the US gains from their presence there no longer justifies the cost in blood or treasure.

One problem with the third debate going too heavily into some of these areas is that they are wildly beyond the understanding of the moderator, NBC News’ Kristen Welker.

Before we address the shortcomings in her background and work history, it should be noted that her parents are substantial contributors to the Democrat Party and Democrat candidates, including maxing out contributions to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Welker herself was a registered Democrat in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2012, though she now seems to have switched to independent.

She has been the White House NBC News correspondent since 2011, but let’s not overstate that position.  That’s a job that generally involves sitting around the White House waiting for a press event, and then dutifully performing a 60-120 second video on what happened that day.  There isn’t a lot of actual “reporting” on anything of substance.  It’s mostly a job that involves repeating what others say.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign Welker was caught on a hot mic tipping off Clinton campaign spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri about the next question she was going to ask Palmieri.

And in 2019, during a confrontational exchange with President Trump she asked him “Mr. President, yes or no… have you ever worked for Russia. Yes or no?”

What kind of idiot thinks that question is going to be answered?

So, in case there were any doubts, I think Kristen Welker is an idiot who can read from a teleprompter — but that’s about it.

I suspect Pres. Trump is going to make the 3rd debate be about whatever he wants it to be about, and Kristen Welker’s topics aren’t going to deter him.