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Trump calls for earlier and more debates with Biden as election draws closer

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to debate President Joe Biden more than the usual three times and to hold them earlier in the 2024 election cycle, his campaign said in a letter on Thursday to the commission overseeing debates.

Trump, who refused to debate his challengers in the Republican Party’s primary before becoming the presumptive nominee last month, has in recent weeks turned to goading Biden, offering to debate him “anytime, anywhere, anyplace.”

On Thursday, Trump’s top two campaign advisers sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, which usually organizes and stages three debates, asking for additional and earlier opportunities for him to take the stage against Biden.

“The Commission must move up the timetable of its proposed 2024 debates to ensure more Americans have a full chance to see the candidates before they start voting, and we would argue for adding more debates,” Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita wrote in the letter, which was made public by the campaign.

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Wiles and LaCivita said they agreed with a “pending letter” being prepared by major TV networks, who have joined together to ensure that debates between Biden and Trump take place. The New York Times first reported on the joint letter earlier this week.

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Biden has not committed to debate Trump but has not ruled it out, saying last month that it would depend on the former president’s behavior.

Biden’s camp has been concerned that once on stage Trump will not abide by rules set by the Commission, and some Biden advisers would prefer not to elevate Trump by putting him on the same stage with the Democratic incumbent.

Biden has a lead among registered voters of 41 per cent to 37 per cent over Trump, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Wednesday.

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Two years ago the Republican National Committee voted to pull out of the commission’s debates, following complaints from Trump about the timing of the events, debate formats and the selection of moderators.

In their letter, Wiles and LaCivita complained about what they termed a “demonstrably anti-Trump moderator” in the first of two debates in 2020 and said that debates in 2024 must be “truly fair and conducted impartially.”

The Commission on Presidential Debates did not respond to a request for comment on the letter.

(Beporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, Steve Holland in Washington and Jarrett Renshaw in PhiladelphiaEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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