Commission turns down Trump's request for fourth debate

Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates on Thursday rejected the Trump campaign's request for an additional debate against Joe Biden in early September as well as its efforts to select moderators for the three scheduled debates.

The commission wrote to President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani that while voters in some states may receive their ballots before the first debate on Sept. 29, they are under no requirement to submit their ballots before then. Giuliani told the commission in a letter Wednesday that as many as 8 million people in 16 states could have started voting by the time of the first debate.

"There is a difference between ballots having been issued by a state and those ballots having been cast by voters, who are under no compulsion to return their ballots before the debates," the panel wrote. "In 2016, when the debate schedule was similar, only 0.0069% of the electorate had voted at the time of the first debate. While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized. Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity."

The commission said it has determined that three 90-minute debates work well to inform voters about the candidates, but that it would consider any request made to add to the schedule. Biden's team said it intends to abide by the three-debate calendar that the commission set earlier this year.

"As we have said for months, the commission will determine the date and times of the debates, and Joe Biden will be there," Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo said in a statement.

The Trump campaign had offered a list of preferred moderators, but the three-member panel said it would continue to make its own choices and "will do so with great care, as always, to ensure that the selected moderators are qualified and fair."


The first debate is scheduled to be at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The second debate, set for Oct. 15, will be in Miami. The third, scheduled for Oct. 22, will be in Nashville, Tennessee.

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