Jun 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden commits to 3 debates with Trump

Pic stitch of Joe Biden and President Donald Trump with their hands in the air

Photos: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

In a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates Monday, Joe Biden's campaign manager said that Biden will agree to the commission's proposal of three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate with independent moderators, adding, "Donald Trump and Mike Pence should do the same."

The big picture: Trump's campaign has been calling for four debates and for them to be held sooner because of early voting. Trump has also accused the bipartisan nonprofit organization of being "very biased."

  • The Biden campaign has laid out a specific position on how they plan to follow through with the debates.
  • Biden says he will participate in the commission's debates on Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. Biden's running mate will participate in the vice presidential candidates’ debate set for Oct. 7.

What they're saying:

"Now that Donald Trump is trailing so badly in the polls, and is desperate to change the subject from his failed leadership of the country, we are seeing reports that he has his own proposal for debates — after having said, just six months ago, that he might not want to participate at all in planned dates.
No one should be fooled: the Trump campaign’s new position is a debate distraction. The Trump position seems to be saying that he will debate if he can pick the moderators: clearly the President, who largely conducts interviews only with favorable news outlets, is afraid of facing questions from a neutral moderator. The Trump campaign proposal for elaborate negotiations is merely an effort to dodge fair, even-handed debates."
— Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon

Between the lines: In a general election season that's shaping up to have far fewer traditional rallies and less traditional candidate engagement than normal, the debates may take on heightened importance and will give Americans a chance to see the incumbent and the former vice president in sharp contrast to one another.

  • There also may be less of a surprise factor for Biden than for Hillary Clinton; Trump in 2016 showed his penchant for using the theater of the debate stage and pre-debate events in unconventional and sometimes controversial ways.

Read the letter.

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