• The commission noted that just because ballots had been mailed to voters doesn't mean they will be filled out immediately
  • Early voting begins Sept. 14. The first debate is set for Sept. 29
  • The commission also assured the Trump campaign it can handle any contingency resulting from the coronavirus pandemic

The Commission on Presidential Debates on Thursday rejected a request by the Trump campaign to schedule a debate between President Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden the first week in September.

The Trump campaign made the request Wednesday in a letter signed by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The campaign said the first debate, scheduled for Sept. 29, would come two weeks after early voting begins.

“There is a difference between ballots having been issued by a state and those ballots having been cast by voters, who are under no compulsion to return their ballots before the debates. In 2016, when the debate schedule was similar, only 0.0069% of the electorate had voted at the time of the first debate,” the commission said in rejecting the campaign’s proposal.

“While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized. Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity.”

In addition to the Sept. 29 in Cleveland confrontation, presidential debates are scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami and Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. The vice presidential debate is set for Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City. The election will be held Nov. 3.

The commission also said it has hired an adviser from the Cleveland Clinic and is working with the hospital on debate planning.

“The commission will be ready for any contingency that is necessary as a result of the pandemic,” the commission said, responding to concerns raised by Giuliani.

It also assured Giuliani it really didn’t need his list of possible moderators.

The coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with the election so far, forcing presidential hopefuls to suspend traditional campaigning early in the primary season and forcing Biden to campaign virtually out of his basement.

The Democratic National Convention has canceled all plans for speeches and other business to be held in Milwaukee, the city that was supposed to host the gathering for 50,000 participants. It announced Wednesday Biden would give his acceptance speech from his Delaware home.

Republicans also have canceled most of their plans. It was unclear from where Trump would deliver his acceptance speech although he has suggested the White House. He also has suggested postponing the election until it’s safe to vote in person – a suggestion rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike.