Just hours ahead of Tuesday night's first presidential debate, President Donald Trump has put in a request for an additional rule: the allowance of third-party inspectors to look for electronic devices and transmitters in the candidates' ears. According to Fox News, which was the first to report on the request, the president's re-election campaign has claimed that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's campaign had previously agreed to the inspection but has since reversed that decision. Trump, meanwhile, has reportedly consented to it.
In a statement shared on the Trump campaign's website, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said that "Biden's handlers several days ago agreed to a pre-debate inspection for electronic earpieces." On Tuesday, however, they "abruptly reversed themselves and declined." Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager, called the request "absurd" in a call with reporters.
In his statement, Murtaugh says "it seems pretty obvious that the Biden team is looking for any safety net they can find in the hours leading up to the debate." He pointed towards the recent reports that Biden had refused to take a drug test ahead of the debate. Trump has long Biden is unfit to hold office as he is "on drugs" that enhance his mental performance, though those claims remain unproven. Murtaugh also pointed towards reports that Biden's campaign has "asked for multiple breaks during the debate, which President Trump doesn't need, so we have rejected that request."
Several sources have told Fox News in the weeks leading up to the debate that Biden's campaign has requested two breaks, one every 30 minutes, to break up the 90-minute debate commercial-free program. Bedingfield denied this, stating that Trump's "staff seems concerned that he may not do well tonight and they're already laying the groundwork for how they're going to lie about why." She said, "It is completely absurd. Of course, he's not wearing an earpiece, and we never asked for breaks."
Tuesday's debate will mark the first of three debates leading up to the Nov. 3 election. The debate is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET and will be broadcast across all major television networks from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace is moderating. A second debate will be held in Miami on Thursday, Oct. 15, with a final debate in Nashville on Thursday, Oct. 22. A vice-presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris is scheduled for Oct. 7.