President Donald Trump’s campaign on Monday said it sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates asking that the planned topics for the third and final debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden be changed.
NBC’s Kristen Welker, the moderator for Thursday’s debate, announced the topics — fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership — last week, according to a news release from the CPD.
Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, asked in the letter that the commission “rethink” the set of topics and focus them more on foreign policy, writing the third debate is “always billed as the ‘Foreign Policy debate.'”
“The topics announced by moderator Kristen Welker are serious and worthy of discussion but only a few of them even touch on foreign policy,” the letter says. “Indeed, almost all of them were discussed at length during the first debate won by President Trump over moderator Chris Wallace and candidate Joe Biden.”
The first debate on Sept. 29 — which was filled with interruptions and broken rules — focused on the pandemic, the economy, the Supreme Court, “race and violence in our cities,” election integrity and Trump’s and Biden’s records, according to the commission.
Polling after the debate showed Americans largely thought Biden came out on top, McClatchy News reported.
Trump’s campaign said the CPD has again “ceded to the wishes” of the Biden campaign with the topics, also referencing the canceled second debate.
That debate was scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, but the commission announced it would be held virtually for safety reasons following the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis. Trump refused to participate in the remote debate and instead the candidates participated in separate televised town hall events during the same time slot.
The Trump campaign previously requested an additional debate be held Oct. 29, and the Monday letter accused the CPD of refusing to add another “simply because the Biden campaign objected.”
The Biden campaign previously said the CPD schedules the debates, not Trump.
“We accepted three debates — Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 — in June. Trump chose today to pull out of the October 15th debate,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, wrote in a Oct. 8 statement to reporters. “Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar and and pick new dates of his choosing.”
Stepien wrote in the Monday letter that the Trump campaign awaits “your immediate reply” to its concerns about the debate topics.
“We further advise you that there is no reason to consult with the Biden campaign before replying because we all know what they think,” the letter said.
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