Oct 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump pushes back on changes to upcoming presidential debates

Photo: Jim Watson, Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump suggested Thursday that he'll resist any moves that could cut off candidates' microphones in the next debate if he continues to talk over his opponent and the moderator.

  • "Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?" he tweeted.

The big picture: White House and campaign officials insist Trump is still committed to two remaining debates, despite the fallout from Tuesday, including poor reviews and discussions of new guardrails.

  • Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh tells Axios they "will absolutely oppose" the Commission's proposed changes, but offered no specifics.
  • The call for changes came after Trump received intense criticism, including from his own advisers, about how much he interrupted Joe Biden.

What they're saying:

  • Earlier Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump "wants to debate. He plans on being at the debate, but wants the rules to be fair and wants a fair exchange and doesn't want rules that cover for a certain candidate's inability to perform."
  • Murtaugh told Axios that the Biden campaign is "running to the commission to try to get the rules changed" because "their guy had a lousy performance."
  • He added that the debate commission "is heavily partisan and filled with plenty of anti-Trump voices. It’s been obvious from the beginning that the commission is doing Joe Biden’s bidding."

The other side: “Joe Biden is looking forward to the Town Hall in Miami. He'll be focused on answering questions from the voters there, under whatever set of rules the Commission develops to try to contain Donald Trump's behavior," Biden's deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said.

What's next: The next presidential debate is in two weeks, and a lot can change between now and then.

  • The first vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris takes place next Wednesday.
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