Friday, May 17, 2024

Trump Outmaneuvered: Debate Commission Chief Criticizes Biden's Strategy

In a surprising turn of events, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., co-founder and co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), has voiced strong objections to the Biden campaign’s recent decision to bypass the CPD’s traditional debates. Speaking on the Playbook Deep Dive podcast, Fahrenkopf argued that Donald Trump was strategically outmaneuvered by Biden’s team, leading to a situation he described as “political malpractice.”

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The Biden campaign’s letter, sent Wednesday, announced that President Biden would not participate in the CPD’s fall debates. The letter criticized the CPD’s debates as “noisy spectacles” that occur too late to accommodate early voting and are too easily disrupted by candidates like Trump, who frequently broke the rules in 2020.

Fahrenkopf dismissed these criticisms as “false” and suggested that Biden advisers Anita Dunn and Ron Klain orchestrated the move out of longstanding hostility towards the CPD. “Anita hates us and always has,” he remarked, indicating that personal biases played a role in the decision.

The Biden campaign’s plan includes two debates organized by CNN and ABC, scheduled for June 27 and another date yet to be announced. Fahrenkopf pointed out that these debates will take place earlier than usual and under terms favorable to Biden. “It was a pretty spectacular job by the Biden people,” he admitted, acknowledging the strategic skill involved in negotiating these terms.

Despite these developments, Fahrenkopf insists that the CPD is not finished. He explained that the commission had adjusted its debate schedule and rules to address early voting concerns, contrary to the Biden campaign’s claims. The CPD reviewed state laws and found that their planned debate dates were appropriate, with minimal impact on early voting.

Fahrenkopf also raised the possibility of legal challenges, particularly regarding Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who may sue CNN to gain access to the debate stage. Under Federal Election Commission rules, debate sponsors must have objective standards for inclusion, and Fahrenkopf hinted that excluding Kennedy could be contested in court.

The situation has led to criticism from within Trump’s own camp. Some analysts argue that Trump’s team made a significant error by quickly agreeing to Biden’s debate terms. Fahrenkopf agreed, describing it as “political malpractice” and suggesting that Trump likely did not fully understand the implications before consenting.

Despite the setbacks, Fahrenkopf remains committed to the CPD’s mission. He emphasized that the commission’s work is far from over, expressing confidence in its continued relevance in organizing presidential debates. “We’re in politics, for God’s sake,” he stated, underscoring his determination to keep the CPD active and influential.

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