Trump campaign calls commission’s refusal to move up debates ‘unacceptable’

Former President Trump’s campaign called the Commission on Presidential Debate’s refusal to move up its debate schedule “unacceptable” Tuesday and suggested the 45th president could go around the body that’s sponsored all general election presidential debates for decades.

“The Presidential Debate Commission’s schedule does not begin until after millions of Americans will have already cast their ballots. This is unacceptable, and by refusing to move up the debates, they are doing a grave disservice to the American public who deserve to hear from both candidates before voting begins,” Trump campaign spokespeople Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a statement.

The Trump campaign had asked the commission earlier this month for debates “much earlier” than the planned kickoff of a first debate in mid-September, as the former president pressures President Biden to go head-to-head.

“We are committed to making this happen with or without the Presidential Debate Commission. We extend an invitation to every television network in America that wishes to host a debate, and we once again call on Joe Biden’s team to work with us to set one up as soon as possible,” LaCivita and Wiles said.

The CPD on Wednesday hit back at the Trump campaign’s claims, stressing that the first debate, scheduled for Sept. 16, will be “the earliest televised general election debate ever held.”

“Yesterday, it was claimed that the CPD’s schedule does not begin until after ‘millions of Americans will have already cast their ballots.’ The CPD purposefully chose September 16 after a comprehensive study of early voting rules in every state,” the nonprofit said in a release, referencing the Trump campaign’s comments.

“The CPD has only one mission: to sponsor and produce general election debates that inform and educate the public. Our schedule is designed with that single mission in mind. The colleges and universities preparing to host these debates look forward to being part of an historic 2024 series of forums.”

Biden said last week that he’s “happy” to debate Trump, now that both 2024 hopefuls have secured the delegates they need to become their respective party’s presumptive nominees. Biden and his campaign have largely sidestepped directly addressing debates with Trump, while the Republican has gotten more vocal with his calls for the incumbent to take the stage and face off with him.

“Crooked Joe Biden just announced that he’s willing to debate! Everyone knows he doesn’t really mean it, but in case he does, I say, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANYPLACE, an old expression used by Fighters,” Trump said in a response post on Truth Social.

For now, the first presidential debate on the commission’s calendar is set for Sept. 16 at Texas State University in San Marcos, followed by a vice presidential debate Sept. 25 at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Two more presidential debates are slated for October in Virginia and Utah.

Trump notably skipped all the GOP primary debates held this cycle, citing his polling advantage over his Republican rivals. He’s currently on trial in New York, facing criminal charges in connection with a hush money payment made during the 2016 cycle.

Updated May 1 at 1:14 p.m.

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