Commission turns down Trump campaign request for additional debate

The Commission on Presidential Debates put the kibosh on the Trump campaign’s request to add a fourth debate to the schedule — though officials said they would consider changes if the Trump and Biden campaigns can come to an agreement.

“The Commission has found that three 90-minute debates work well to fulfill the voter education purposes the debates are intended to serve,” CPD officials wrote to President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani on Thursday. “If the candidates were to agree that they wished to add to that schedule, the Commission would consider that request but remains committed to the schedule of debates it has planned.”

Mr. Giuliani had asked the commission to add a fourth debate to the schedule in September because of the expansive early voting calendar.

The Trump campaign had also said that if the commission was set on sticking with three debates, the final one, scheduled for Oct. 22, should be moved to the first week in September.

The commission said voters are under no obligation to return their ballots before watching Mr. Trump and likely Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden debate.

“While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized,” officials wrote. “Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity.”

Mr. Giuliani said in response that the Trump campaign is disappointed but appreciates the commission’s openness to holding a fourth debate, or moving one earlier, if there’s an agreement between the two campaigns.

“While we do understand that Mr. Biden has been sequestered in his basement in Wilmington, Delaware, for some time, President Trump still believes that the American people deserve to see the candidates for president side by side at some point,” the former New York mayor said.

Mr. Giuliani said the commission’s reply “makes it clear that the idea of an earlier debate is, in effect, locked away in the basement, alone and diminished.”

Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, said earlier this week that Mr. Biden is looking forward to participating in the three debates.

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