- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Trump campaign on Wednesday asked the Presidential Commission on Debates to schedule a fourth debate, to take place in the first week of September, before early voting begins in some states.

“The commission’s current approach is an outdated dinosaur and not reflective of voting realities in 2020,” attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani told the commission in a letter. “For a nation already deprived of a traditional campaign schedule because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it makes no sense to also deprive so many Americans of the opportunity to see and hear the two competing visions for our country’s future before millions of votes have been cast.”

The Trump campaign also gave the commission a list of 24 suggested debate moderators, including Bret Baier and Harris Faulkner of Fox News, Norah O’Donnell and Major Garrett of CBS News, Hoda Kotb of NBC, and syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Mr. Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden have agreed to three debates, the first scheduled for Sept. 29 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. The Trump campaign said that date is too late because it falls “after millions of voters in 16 states will have already been voting.”

North Carolina voters, for example, will begin casting their votes as early as Sept. 4.

If a fourth debate can’t be set up, the Trump campaign said, the commission should move up one of the three current debates to early September.

Biden campaign senior strategist Symone Sanders said Mr. Biden has committed to three debates beginning on Sept. 29. She said Mr. Biden “is very much so looking forward to meeting Donald Trump on the debate stage.”

“The Presidential Commission on Debates has set […] that there will be three debates this year,” she said during a virtual fundraiser. “Vice President Biden has already committed to all three of those debates. We did not hesitate. It is the Trump campaign that has yet to fully commit to the debate.”

Despite some prominent Democrats suggesting that Mr. Biden should skip the debates, Ms. Sanders said the Democrat will be on the stage in Cleveland.

“Joe Biden is going to be ready,” she said. “He is ready to articulate his vision to the American people. He is ready to take Donald Trump to task on his mismanagement on this COVID-19 pandemic and his lack of partnership with states like Georgia with mayors like [Atlanta] Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.”

Mr. Trump and his advisers are eager for the debates, believing they will help the president overcome a deficit against Mr. Biden in polls. They also believe the forums will expose Mr. Biden for having lost some of his vigor, and that he’ll appear overmatched on the same stage with the president.

“Certainly former Vice President Biden would agree with the need to avoid having millions of Americans disenfranchised by not being able to see and hear the two major-party candidates debate before they have ballots in-hand, and our suggestions for location and moderators shows a spirit of cooperation the Commission should be able to agree to,” Mr. Giuliani said in the letter.

“Additionally, now that former Vice President Biden has finally confirmed he is indeed available to leave his basement for the fall debates, we are also requesting the commission solidify its backup plans for debate locations and logistics in the event additional COVID-19 complications arise at any of the locations.”

He suggested “a simple studio format with no audience” as an emergency back-up plan for the debates.

• Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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