Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien wrote a letter to the commission on Monday raising objections with the topics announced by moderator and NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker last week, saying the commission should observe “long-standing custom” by making foreign policy the central focus of Thursday’s debate. Stepien also claimed the campaigns had agreed to the third debate being focused on foreign policy.
“As is the long-standing custom, and as has been promised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate. We urge you to re-calibrate the topics and return to subjects which had already been confirmed,” Stepien wrote.
Stepien accused Democratic nominee Joe Biden of being “desperate to avoid conversations about his own foreign policy record” and said the commission was trying to alter the course of the final debate in order to “insulate Biden from his own history. “The Commission’s pro-Biden antics have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco and it is little wonder why the public has lost faith in its objectivity,” he wrote.
His letter comes days after Welker announced that the topics of the debate would be fighting the coronavirus pandemic; American families; race in America; climate change; national security; and leadership. Trump’s campaign has consistently claimed that the Commission on Presidential Debates, which describes itself as a nonpartisan panel, is working to assist Biden in the debates.
Stepien’s letter does not threaten to pull out of the third debate, but it could raise questions about the president’s plans to appear if the commission does not agree to adjust the topics. Representatives for the commission did not immediately return a request for comment Monday afternoon.
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