CPD Statement


August 6, 2020

Hon. Rudolph W. Giuliani
Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. 1300 N. 17th Street
14th Floor
Arlington, VA 22209

Dear Mayor Giuliani:

Thank you for your letter dated August 5. We are pleased that President Trump and Vice President Biden both have agreed to participate in the debates the Commission on Presidential Debates will sponsor on September 29 (Cleveland), October 15 (Miami-Town Hall), and October 22 (Nashville). We also look forward to the vice presidential debate scheduled for October 7 in Salt Lake City. Debate invitations will be extended after the major parties have formally nominated their respective candidates and after application of the Commission’s Non-Partisan Candidate Selection Criteria, as required by applicable law.

In your letter, you express the Trump campaign’s interest in a presidential debate in early September. You state that such a debate is necessary because some states begin sending out mail-in ballots before the first scheduled debate. 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 .0069% of the electorate had voted at the time of the first debate. 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.

The Commission has found that three 90-minute debates work well to fulfill the voter education purposes the debates are intended to serve. If the candidates were to agree that they wished to add to that schedule, the Commission would consider that request but remains committed to the schedule of debates it has planned as reflected in the attached release.

You inquire about the possibility of logistical changes being necessary as a result of the pandemic. The Commission has been and remains highly focused on the possible impact of the pandemic on the debates. We have retained Cleveland Clinic as Health Security Advisor for the debates, and we are working closely with the Clinic on all aspects of debate planning potentially affected by the pandemic. The Commission will be ready for any contingency that is necessary as a result of the pandemic.

Finally, the Commission will adhere to our longstanding procedure of selecting the debate moderators. It will do so with great care, as always, to ensure that the selected moderators are qualified and fair.

Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.                            Dorothy S. Ridings                                    Kenneth Wollack


The sites and dates of the four 2020 general election debates are:

First presidential debate:
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH

Vice presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Second presidential debate:
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, FL

Third presidential debate:
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

As previously announced, Cleveland Clinic will serve as Health Security Advisor to the CPD for all four debates.

All debates will be 90 minutes in length, will run from 9:00 – 10:30 pm ET without commercial breaks, and be broadcast by the White House pool networks.

The CPD is the non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)3 organization that has sponsored and produced all general election presidential debates since 1987.  The CPD receives no funding from the government or any political party or campaign.  For more information and to learn about DebateWatch2020, please visit www.debates.org.