The Trump campaign on Thursday launched a broadside against the Commission on Presidential Debates with a substantial amount of opposition research, claiming that the group, which defines itself as a private, nonpartisan 501c3 organization, is not, and reiterating that President Trump does not want any changes to the rules.
Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller said the commission is made up of “permanent swamp monsters” and is “not representative of America as a whole.”
The Trump campaign, Miller said during a call with reporters, “(does) not want any changes to what has already been laid out and what has been agreed to for the second and third debate, period, point blank.”
He later added, “There shouldn’t be any changes. We do not want any changes. This is purely a move by the Biden camp and their allies in the CPD.”
Max Miller, who is leading negotiations with the commission, told reporters that in a Wednesday morning meeting, the Biden campaign suggested (but did not demand, he noted), “opening and closing statements, directing questions from the moderator to each candidate, limiting the open discussion from 11 minutes to almost nothing just to regain more control and structure, and the mute button issue did come up.”
Those suggestions came from Brady Williamson of the Biden campaign, he said.
Jason Miller appeared to leave Trump’s participation up in the air.
Trump “fully plans on participating in and winning both the second and third debate,” as does Vice President Mike Pence in his debate next week, Miller said, “but there should not be any changes to what’s been agreed to and set out.”
Campaign manager Bill Stepien listed a series of members of the commission and their previous comments and actions he perceived as biased against the Trump campaign.
Those members included remarks in Nantucket Magazine from CPD co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf, Democratic contributions from co-chair Dorothy Ridings, and comments and Democratic contributions from co-chair Kenneth Wollack. He also listed off previous comments and/or contributions from board members Jane Harman, Antonia Hernandez, Rev. John Jenkins, Newt Minow, Richard Parsons, and Olympia Snowe.
“Joe Biden is a creature of this city, he’s been cozying up to this city’s wheelers and dealers and insiders for the last half century, and lo and behold, that’s exactly who runs this commission,” Stepien said.
Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates responded to the Trump comments in a statement saying, “We are running our campaign, not running the debates. Since June, we have consistently said we would participate in all three debates, under rules that the CPD established.”
“Only the Trump campaign has been erratic and chaotic in their approach to this, demanding control over the selection of moderators, changes in the dates of the debates, an ear canal inspection rule, and all sorts of other insanity. Perhaps if the President and his team spent as much time worrying about the country as they do about debate rules, he would not be trailing and would not have engaged in the desperate, out-of-control behavior — emblematic of his tenure — that he showed on Tuesday night. Our position is clear: we will participate under the CPD’s rules. The only real question left is whether the President will start following the rules in the next two debates,” Bates said.