‘No more games’: Biden rejects additional debates against Trump

Both campaigns agreed to two debates this week. The Biden campaign said it wasn't interested in two additional face-offs that Trump has accepted.

President Joe Biden’s campaign rejected two additional debates on Friday that former President Donald Trump’s campaign says it agreed to do.

One was a proposal for a presidential debate hosted by NBC News and Telemundo. The other was for a vice presidential debate hosted by Fox News at Virginia State University, a historically Black college.

“I have accepted a fourth Presidential Debate against Crooked Joe Biden, this time with NBC & Telemundo,” Trump wrote on Truth Social Friday afternoon. “It is important as Republicans that we WIN with our Great Hispanic Community, who Biden has devastated with Crippling Inflation, High Gas Prices, Crime in our Streets, and Border Chaos. … This is all in addition to our accepting an invitation from Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum of Fox News to host the Vice Presidential Debate at Virginia State University, or another venue, in Virginia, to be named later.”

A spokesperson for NBC News confirmed that the network had offered a debate to both campaigns.

Trump’s acceptance of debates that would have reached larger Latino and Black audiences seemed aimed, at part, at goading the Biden campaign, which has been struggling to connecting with these communities that were critical to his election in 2020.

“The debate about debates is over,” a Biden campaign official said. “No more games.”

In a statement Friday night, the Trump campaign responded by blasting Biden’s decision.

“The Telemundo/NBC debate would be widely watched by Hispanic voters, but Biden’s handlers are petrified to allow him to defend his disastrous record,” campaign spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez said. “Crooked Joe Biden is too ‘cobarde’ to address the Hispanic community and answer for his failures on the debate stage!”

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This week, the Trump and Biden campaigns bypassed the traditional process run by the Commission on Presidential Debates and agreed to two presidential debates: one hosted by CNN in Atlanta on June 27, and another by ABC News on Sept. 10, with the location yet to be determined.

The Biden campaign also accepted an offer for a vice presidential debate hosted by CBS News, but so far the Trump campaign has not — instead accepting the separate, competing Fox News proposal for that debate.

Neither the Trump campaign nor CBS News returned requests for comment on Friday about the status of that debate.

The Biden campaign official said that in the letter on the debate conditions it accepted, the campaign left the door open to the possibility that CNN or ABC News could partner with Telemundo or Univision or another Spanish-language channel.

CNN has announced it will not allow a studio audience at its debate.

For each of the two presidential debates, the candidates will have to meet certain requirements to appear onstage, including being on the ballot in enough states to reach at least 270 electoral votes, accepting “the rules and format of the debate” and receiving at least 15% in four national polls of registered or likely voters.

The debates publicly came together quickly on Wednesday. After the Biden campaign challenged Trump to two debates hosted in a television studio — a break from the commission’s tradition of doing them on a college campus — the Trump campaign quickly agreed.

But that agreement followed private, informal conversations between the Republican and Democratic challengers that began after the president’s interview with radio host Howard Stern late last month, in which Biden said he would be “happy” to debate Trump.

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In a statement Wednesday, campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon also said that there would be “no more debate about debates.”

“President Biden made his terms clear for two one-on-one debates, and Donald Trump accepted those terms,” she said in a statement. “No more games. No more chaos, no more debate about debates. We’ll see Donald Trump on June 27th in Atlanta — if he shows up.”

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