Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s faithful attack dog, is now setting his sights on the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The former New York mayor on Thursday morning attempted to cast doubt on the nonpartisan nature of the commission that organizes the presidential debates.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked during a Fox & Friends interview if the commission was biased. “Let’s find out if they’re biased.”
Giuliani and the Trump campaign have been pushing for an additional debate to be scheduled earlier in September, suggesting that the move would get ahead of those sending mail-in ballots.
“Two of the debates are after half the people vote,” Giuliani said. “That’s just not fair to anybody.”
It is the latest in an increasingly desperate ploy by Team Trump to interfere with the presidential election as the President faces increasingly long electoral odds.
Trump has doubled down on spreading false claims that mail-in voting is rife with fraud — even though he suddenly reversed course by endorsing Florida’s vote-by-mail program when he realized that bashing Florida’s program wasn’t giving him an edge. The reversal seems to suggest that in the President’s view, mail-in ballots are only fair and legitimate in Republic-run states.
“We might as well have them after the election,” Giuliani said of the debates on Thursday. “I mean, this is like sticking to a rationale that’s 30 years old that has no application to today.”
He said that as it stands the presidential debate schedule which begins on Sept. 29, “undercuts the entire mission of the commission.”
The remarks expand on an argument Giuliani made in a letter Wednesday to the Commission on Presidential Debates calling the current timetable “an outdated dinosaur.”
In the letter, the former mayor requested that a fourth presidential debate be added to the current schedule, and if declined, that the currently scheduled final debate be moved to a date in early September before the first ballots are sent on Sept. 4 in North Carolina. By the time of the originally scheduled first presidential debate, Giuliani wrote, “16 states will already have started voting.”
But the letter also proposed several potential moderators for the debate, including Bret Baier, Harris Faulkner, Hugh Hewitt, David Muir and Norah O’Donnell. Hewitt recently published an op-ed in The Washington Post celebrating the President.
The Trump campaign had previously pitched the idea of a fourth debate in June as it was becoming glaringly clear that Trump needed to break Biden’s growing lead in the polls.
The June proposals were a shift from just months before when the campaign threatened that it would not participate in any of the three previously scheduled debates if they were not “fair.”
Giuliani told the Fox & Friends hosts that Democrats were opposed to holding additional debates because it would hurt their candidate, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. (That’s not actually the case.)
“The Biden people — they are having a hard time with one debate,” Giuliani said, meanwhile claiming that the former vice president was suffering from cognitive dysfunction.
“There is is only one reason you wouldn’t do this. You wouldn’t do this because you think that one candidate has a real chance of making a total idiot out of himself in the debate. And the American people may actually find out that he has an illness which is being hidden by the corrupt democratic media,” Giuliani said.
But in a statement Wednesday, Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said the Democratic candidate has no fear of battling Trump in a debate, so long as the moderators are not handpicked by Trump.
“We have said all along, including in a letter to the commission in June, that Joe Biden will appear on the dates that the commission selected and in the locations they chose,” Bates said. “Donald Trump has not, continually trying to insert his choice of friendly moderators, now including one who just published an op-ed offering ‘the case’ for Trump’s reelection.”
Later on Thursday the commission responded to Giuliani’s request saying that it “remains committed” to its existing schedule and that it would only consider adding a fourth debate if both sides agreed to it.
The commission also addressed the notion that voting by mail would render the debates irrelevant, saying that voters would be “under no compulsion” to cast a ballot ahead of the debates. “
While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized,” the commission said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press. “Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity.”