Presidential debate commission sticks to schedule despite Trump’s urging

Written by on May 2, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — The Commission on Presidential Debates is pushing back against suggestions from the Trump campaign that it move its general debate calendar up — standing firm in its decision to hold the first broadcast on Sept. 16, 2024.

In a statement released on Wednesday, a day after Trump senior campaign advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles released their own statement urging earlier debates, the commission correctly noted that its September event is the earliest it’s ever conducted a debate. The previous record was set in 1980, when Republican Ronald Reagan and Independent John Anderson went head-to-head on Sept. 21.

Trump senior advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles on Wednesday evening made an additional statement on the commission saying its general debate schedule will remain unchanged this cycle.

The Trump advisers reiterated the campaign’s willingness to work directly with the Biden campaign in organizing earlier debates, calling on “every television network” to host them “with or without the stubborn Presidential Debates Commission.”

The commission noted that, “as it always does, the CPD considered multiple factors in selecting debate dates in order to make them accessible by the American public,” including religious and federal holidays, early voting, and the dates on which individual states close their ballots.

The commission also pushed back against the Trump advisers’ claims that “millions of Americans will have already cast their ballots” at the time of the first debate, noting that it “purposefully chose September 16 after a comprehensive study of early voting rules in every state,” including taking into consideration North Carolina’s Sept. 6 start to sending out mail-in ballots.

On Sept. 16, the day of the first debate, Pennsylvania voters can receive, complete and return ballots at their county boards of elections, CPD notes. Minnesota is one of the first states to offer in-person early voting, and voters there can begin to cast ballots on Friday, Sept. 20.

“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,” the commission continued in its statement.

Following the first debate on Sep. 16 at Texas State University, the commission has announced plans to hold the second on Oct. 1 at Virginia State University and the third on Oct. 9 at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It plans to hold a vice presidential debate on Sept. 25 at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

Last week, President Joe Biden told Howard Stern on his Sirius XM show that he would be “happy” to debate former President Donald Trump, although he did not specify when. Trump and his campaign have used the moment to reemphasize their calls for earlier debates.

At rallies, before Trump speaks, the campaign directs supporters to turn their attention to the stage, where a second podium has been placed with a banner on it that says “Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace,” in reference to a previous statement from Trump regarding his willingness to face off against Biden.

Trump has previously attacked the commission, when in 2020 he claimed he would not accept any of their changes intended to enforce the rules and limit interruptions at the remaining 2020 presidential debates.

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