Trump campaign gripes over commission’s refusal to change debate dates to suit ex-president

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Donald Trump’s campaign is complaining about the debate commission’s “unacceptable” decision to stick to its schedule – rather than changing its plans to suit the whims of the former commander-in-chief.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has been governing the presidential debate showdowns for decades.

This time around, it has scheduled the first debate for 16 September at Texas State University in San Marcos, with a vice presidential debate then slated for 25 September at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Another two presidential debates are scheduled to go ahead the following month in Virginia and Utah.

The commission released its schedule in late November, close to a year before the 2024 election, and has rejected requests from the Trump campaign to bring forward debates to earlier in the year.

“The CPD’s criteria … will be applied in early September; afterward, the Commission will extend debate invitations to qualifying candidates,” the commission told Fox News Digital on Tuesday.

“The CPD is proceeding with production and broadcast plans at its four debate sites as also announced on November 20, 2023.”

Senior Trump campaign officials Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles have griped about the CPD’s plans – taking issue with the fact that the commission has refused to alter the schedule at their request.

“The Presidential Debate Commission’s schedule does not begin until after millions of Americans will have already cast their ballots,” the statement said.

“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.”

The statement added: “President Trump has stated he will debate Joe Biden anytime, anywhere, anyplace, and Joe Biden himself just agreed to debate. 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. The American people deserve it.”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has been pushing allies to argue for debates between Mr Trump and President Joe Biden.

Former US president Donald Trump walks out of court to speak to the press during a break in his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on 30 April 2024 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Former US president Donald Trump walks out of court to speak to the press during a break in his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on 30 April 2024 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In recent months, the president had been vague about whether or not he was going to debate Mr Trump, saying it depends on the former president’s “behaviour”.

But in an interview with radio host Howard Stern last week, Mr Biden said he would be “happy” to debate his Republican rival.

Mr Trump quickly responded on Truth Social, challenging the president to come meet him outside his hush money trial to debate him on the steps of the Manhattan courthouse.

“Everyone knows he doesn’t really mean it, but in case he does, I say, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANYPLACE, an old expression used by Fighters,” Mr Trump wrote.

When Mr Biden did not instantly take him up on the challenge, Mr Trump invited himself to the White House to debate the president there.

The commission has hosted and produced the debates for more than 30 years, but the RNC voted two years ago to stop cooperating with the commission, claiming that it was biased against Republican candidates.