Trump campaign managers criticize Commission on Presidential Debates for sticking to original debate schedule

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign managers on Tuesday criticized the Commission on Presidential Debates after the commission told Fox News it would stick to its original debate schedule despite calls from the Trump campaign to move the dates earlier and add more debates.

Trump campaign managers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a statement they were extending an invitation to “every television network in America that wishes to host a debate,” and called on President Joe Biden’s campaign to coordinate with them to set up a debate “as soon as possible.”

For weeks, Republicans have been urging debates between Trump and Biden to take place, and as early as possible.

“The Presidential Debate Commission’s schedule does not begin until after millions of Americans will have already cast their ballots. 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 from LaCivita and Wiles reads.

“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,” they added. “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.”

CNN has reached out the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The commission told Fox News earlier Tuesday that it was sticking to its original schedule and said, “The CPD’s criteria […] will be applied in early September; afterward, the Commission will extend debate invitations to qualifying candidates.”

“The CPD is proceeding with production and broadcast plans at its four debate sites as also announced on November 20, 2023,” the statement from the commission reads, according to Fox News.

The Republican National Committee has been encouraging surrogates to push for Biden to debate Trump in televised interviews. And Trump and his team have issued multiple statements making near carbon copy arguments about how the former president is ready to debate Biden anytime anywhere.

The subtext of these calls points to the contrast Trump and Republicans are hoping to make with Biden: that the former president is energetic and willing to stand on stage while Biden is less so.

But Biden recently said in an interview with Howard Stern that he’d be “happy to debate” Trump. Previously, he has equivocated, saying it would depend on the former president’s behavior.

Trump has had an uneven history with debates since emerging on the presidential campaign scene. There have been moments, like in 2016, when he was eager to debate his rivals. In the 2024 Republican primary, though, the GOP front-runner skipped every debate and still ended up clinching the party nomination.

Two years ago, the RNC voted decisively to withdraw from debates hosted by the Committee on Presidential Debates after months of then-chair Ronna McDaniel lobbying the committee to make changes to the debates in response to complaints by Trump.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Daniel Strauss contributed to this report.

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