Is anyone surprised?
The Commission on Presidential Debates has officially REJECTED the Trump campaign's request for the debate schedule to incluce at least 1 debate before the first ballots are cast.
According to the current schedule, up to 8 million ballots may have already been cast before the first debate takes place.
The people deserve to hear from both candidates on stage before any ballot is cast, the campaign argues.
In a letter on behalf of the Trump campain, Rudy Guiliani wrote:
By the time of the first presidential debate on September 29, 2020, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, as many as eight million Americans in 16 states will have already started voting.
This is true.
See the full text of Giuliani's letter to the commission below:
It's a fair request to make!
Anyone who cares about transparency in our elections should WANT the two candidates to duke it out on the debate stage.
Yet... the Commission has rejected the request.
The Hill confirms that the current debate schedule will stand, meaning that up to 8 million will have already been cast by the time the first debate happens:
The Commission on Presidential Debates is rejecting the Trump campaign’s request to modify the presidential debate schedule so the first debate occurs before states begin early voting.
In a letter to Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, the commission’s three co-chairs said it would stick to its schedule of three, 90-minute debates beginning Sept. 29, after the Trump campaign pushed for a debate to be added or the date for the last debate to be moved up to the beginning of September.
The commission rebuffed the campaign’s argument that the current debate schedule would deprive voters of seeing the candidates debate one another before the first ballots are cast.
“You state that such a debate is necessary because some states begin sending out mail-in ballots before the first scheduled debate. There is a difference between ballots having been issued by a state and those ballots having been cast by voters, who are under no compulsion to return their ballots before the debates,” wrote co-chairs Frank Fahrenkopf, Dorothy Ridings and Kenneth Wollack in the letter to Giuliani Thursday.
“In 2016, when the debate schedule was similar, only .0069% of the electorate had voted at the time of the first debate. While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized. Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity,” the letter continued.
The commission said it would retain the current schedule, but noted that it would entertain a request for an added debate if both Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden were to agree that they wanted an additional contest.
COVID-19 has upended the way the candidates would traditionally campaign.
You would think that the Commission would want to help make it easier for BOTH candidates to have their voices and ideas heard.
Yet... the commission is standing by the original schedule, meaning that millions of ballots will be irreversibly cast before the first debate is seen by Americans.
However, there seemed to be a small opening...
In their response, the commission said that they would "consider" adding a 4th debate if Joe Biden joined President Trump in requesting one.
However, Biden has shown no interest in asking for a 4th debate, though he has agreed to attend all 3 as currently planned.
CBS News reports:
The co-chairs said the commission would consider adding a fourth debate if Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, joined Mr. Trump in requesting one.
In his letter, Giuliani slammed the commission's process as "an outdated dinosaur and not reflective of voting realities in 2020."
"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," Giuliani said.
Giuliani's push for an earlier debate comes as the Trump campaign has begun pouring money into advertising in the battleground states of Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Arizona, which are the four states that cast the majority of early or absentee ballots in 2016. In Arizona alone, three-quarters of the electorate voted before Election Day in 2016, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
A greater influx of early and absentee votes are anticipated this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. The commission said it had retained the Cleveland Clinic to advise it on conducting the debates safely.
"[W]e are working closely with the Clinic on all aspects of debate planning potentially affected by the pandemic," the co-chairs wrote. "The Commission will be ready for any contingency that is necessary as a result of the pandemic."
The good news is that those who early vote are likely the voters who made up their minds a long time ago.
Hopefully independents and swing voters will wait until the debates or election day itself to vote.
Debates are a critical part of the democratic process.
They allow the ideas and politics of both candidates to be evaluated, tested, and seen by the public.
Until now, Biden has appeared to "hide" in his basement.
It's time for him to face the scrutiny of the public and the media.