Joe Biden’s campaign is refusing President Donald Trump’s request to take part in more than three debates ahead of the general election in November.
Jen O’Malley Dillon, the former vice president’s campaign manager, made the announcement on Monday in a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, as first reported by the Washington Post. In the letter, O’Malley Dillon informed the commission that Biden would only take part, as is custom, in three presidential debates.
“Joe Biden looks forward to facing Donald Trump in a multi-debate series that the American people have come to expect from their leaders; we hope that President Trump would not break that tradition or make excuses for a refusal to participate,” O’Malley Dillon wrote.
The announcement comes as Trump, who has fallen behind Biden in the polls amid the coronavirus pandemic and in the wake of national protests over George Floyd’s death, had made an aggressive push for more debates, with less formal rules. Trump, in particular, sought to decrease the role of moderators, allowing each candidate more time to opine on their agenda for the presidency.
O’Malley Dillon, in her letter to the commission, lambasted the Trump campaign’s request for more debates as a “distraction,” noting the president had earlier flirted with the idea of skipping the events altogether.
“Our position is straightforward and clear: Joe Biden will accept the Commission’s debates, on the Commission’s dates, under the Commission’s established format and the Commission’s independent choice of moderators,” she wrote. Further urging for “Donald Trump and Mike Pence should do the same.”
The Trump campaign responded to the letter, claiming that Biden’s campaign was attempting to decrease his visibility given the former vice president’s penchant for gaffes.
“It’s pretty obvious that Joe Biden’s handlers are afraid to send their candidate out without a script and teleprompter handy,” Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director said.