President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested moving up the first presidential debate, stating that he and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden "owe it to the American People" to battle it out on stage before any states cast their votes. In the tweet, the president also slammed mail-in voting, which is scheduled to begin prior to the first debate in several states.
How can voters be sending in Ballots starting, in some cases, one month before the First Presidential Debate. Move the First Debate up. A debate, to me, is a Public Service. Joe Biden and I owe it to the American People!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2020
Trump's remarks came just hours after his re-election campaign sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday formally requesting a debate be held during the first week of September before early voting begins in 16 states. The first debate is currently scheduled to take place on Sept. 29, with two other debates scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. The Trump campaign is calling for a fourth debate to be held before the others, but if that does not happen, the Oct. 22 event should be moved to the first week of September.
"For a nation already deprived of a traditional campaign schedule because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it makes no sense to also deprive so many Americans of the opportunity to see and hear the two competing visions for our country's future before millions of votes have been cast," the letter, written by former New York City Mayor and campaign representative Rudy Giuliani, argues.
The letter points out that by the time the currently scheduled first debate were to take place, "as many as eight million Americans in 16 states will have already started voting." By the time of the vice presidential debate on Oct. 7, "as many as 20 million Americans in 24 states will have already started voting," and as many as 35 million Americans in 29 states will be voting by the second presidential debate on Oct. 15. A total of 34 states will have early voting before the third and final debate is held on Oct. 22.
"Certainly former Vice President Biden would agree with the need to avoid having millions of Americans disenfranchised by not being able to see and hear the two major party candidates debate before they have ballots in-hand, and our suggestions for location and moderators shows a spirit of cooperation the Commission should be able to agree to," the letter states.
The letter also offers a list of recommended moderators for the debates, including Bret Baier of Fox News, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Norah O'Donnell of CBS News, and Hoda Kotb of NBC News.