President Donald Trump opposes changing the rules for the remaining two presidential debates against Democrat Joe Biden, but — at least prior to the early Friday news of his COVID diagnosis — his campaign said he would attend.
Tuesday's opening debate in Cleveland quickly turned chaotic, with frequent interruptions by the candidates, particularly Trump. The Commission on Presidential Debates said Wednesday that it “intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates.”
The commission and representatives from Trump's and Biden's campaigns met Wednesday morning to discuss the previous night’s debate and potential changes. But the commission, which has organized every general election debate since 1988, did not specify what changes it is considering.
Trump, a Republican, tweeted Thursday that he opposed any changes. “Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time,” he tweeted shortly after landing in New Jersey, where he was to hold a campaign fundraiser at his private golf club.
On a conference call with reporters, Trump's reelection campaign indicated that Trump would attend the remaining debates regardless of whether the rules are changed. However, by Friday, morning the fate of the next debate, scheduled for Oct. 15, was unclear, with the president and first lady planning to isolate in the White House following their positive coronavirus test results.
Video: Chaotic debate highlights partisan divisions
Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for Biden, said “We will participate under the CPD’s rules.”
Organizers and both campaigns expect that the next presidential debate, a “town meeting” set for Oct. 15 in Miami, will be more orderly, as the candidates address questions asked directly to them by voters. The third and final debate, set for Oct. 22 in Nashville, is slated to feature a similar format to Tuesday's event.
Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe in Washington contributed to this report.