Normal presidential campaign stuff like debates seems really, really far away in this pandemic-and-protest era, but former Vice President Joe Biden has confirmed he’ll participate in three debates with Donald Trump and his vice presidential nominee will debate Mike Pence. The Commission on Presidential Debates has a schedule and formats for those debates, though the second presidential debate has been moved from Michigan to Florida due to the coronavirus pandemic and the mayor of Miami is warning that the debate may not have an audience, a strong reminder that other parts of the schedule could change, too.
Donald Trump’s planned participation has veered from threats not to participate at all to, recently, a posturing push for more debates, but with the campaigns getting to pick moderators. “Six months after announcing he did not want to debate, Donald Trump—now trailing in the polls—wants to change the subject from his failed leadership, and launch a ‘campaign’ for many debates,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said at the time. “But there’s a catch: he’ll only do it if he can pick the moderators.”
“We want fair debates. We want them sooner, and we want a bigger schedule,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale claimed last week, before Trump’s failed Tulsa rally. “We also don’t want them up against football games competing for viewers. As many Americans as possible need to see the stark differences between the accomplishments and leadership of President Trump and the failed record and sleepiness of Joe Biden.”
Sure, Brad. And in a month or so you will have decided that it’s a bad idea to have Trump debating after all, and the position will change again.
The presidential debates are scheduled for Tuesday, September 29, in Notre Dame, Indiana; Thursday, October 15, in Miami, Florida; and Thursday, October 22, in Nashville, Tennessee. The vice presidential debate is scheduled for Wednesday, October 7, in Salt Lake City, Utah. All debates are scheduled for 90 minutes, with the second presidential debate in a town hall format and others moderated by single individuals.
Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon had explicitly called for a town hall debate, because “During his primary campaign, Vice President Biden welcomed direct questions from uncommitted voters on a frequent basis, and we think it is time that President Trump faced such questioning himself.”
O’Malley Dillon also called on the debate commission to ensure safe practices to prevent COVID-19 transmission, because “Nothing should prevent the conduct of debates between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on these dates; again, we do not want to provide President Trump with any excuses for not debating.”