The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It has scheduled three presidential debates: Sept. 29 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan, and Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville. A vice presidential debate will be held Oct. 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
But the president wants at least one additional showdown. Trump has raised questions about Biden’s mental capacity and nicknamed him “Sleepy Joe” to hammer the former vice president. More debates, Trump advisers contend, mean more chances for Biden to embarrass himself.
Biden’s campaign dismissed Trump’s request.
Six months after announcing he did not want to debate, Donald Trump — now trailing in the polls — wants to change the subject from his failed leadership, and launch a ‘campaign’ for many debates. But there’s a catch: he’ll only do it if he can pick the moderators,” said Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield. “We will make this simple: like every other Democratic and Republican candidate since 1992, we will show up for the debates set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, at the places they have selected, on the dates they have selected, with the formats and moderators they designate — so long as Donald Trump does the same, and does not intimidate the Commission into changes from past practices.”
With an eye toward maximizing viewership, Trump’s campaign also wants the debates to take place on weekday evenings other than Thursday so they don’t coincide with NFL games.
Giuliani, whom Parscale brought on to serve in an unpaid capacity, is making a return to the spotlight after playing a starring role in Trump’s impeachment. Giuliani, who was also involved in Trump’s 2016 debate prep, led an effort to dig up opposition research in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals.
The president’s team is zeroing in on which moderators will be chosen and says both the reelection campaign and Biden should have a say. Trump repeatedly complained about debate moderators in 2016 — perhaps most famously over Megyn Kelly’s questioning of him in the first debate of the GOP primary.
It’s not the first time the Trump team has raised concerns about the fall debates. During a meeting with Fahrenkopf late last year, Parscale raised concerns about the ideological makeup of the commission. Trump tweeted in December, “The problem is that the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers.”
In the same tweet, Trump referred to the defective microphone that plagued him during a 2016 debate with Hillary Clinton.
“I will make a decision at an appropriate time but in the meantime, the Commission on Presidential Debates is NOT authorized to speak for me (or R’s)!” he added.
Since Biden’s emergence, however, Trump aides have become less focused on the composition of the commission and more on increasing the number of debates.