Following an ugly first debate with President Donald Trump Tuesday night in Cleveland, Joe Biden’s campaign quickly moved to squash pundits' talk of canceling upcoming meetings with the president in Miami and Nashville.
“Joe Biden’s going to show up,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said during a call held late Tuesday night after the debate with reporters. “He’s going to continue speaking to the American people.”
Biden, the former vice president, and Trump are set to meet again Oct. 15 in Miami for a socially distanced debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. They will share the stage with undecided voters and take questions from them.
“Real voters are going to have the chance to engage the candidates. Biden obviously relishes any opportunity to talk directly with voters as something he prioritizes on the campaign trail,” Bedingfield said when asked whether Biden believed it was still “worth” debating Trump in Miami. “There’s an open question here based on what we saw from Donald Trump tonight: Is he going to bully actual voters? Is he going to insult his way through the next debate?”
Tuesday’s debate in Cleveland, held without fact-checking, was the first meeting between the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees. It began without a handshake, an unusual move attributed to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
But it proved symbolic.
Trump repeatedly interrupted and talked over Biden, and told him, “There’s nothing smart about you.” Biden told Trump at one point to “shut up,” and later called him a “clown.”
Trump interjected so frequently that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News stopped the debate to ask The president to abide by the rules his campaign agreed to when the debate was established. “Why don’t you observe what your campaign agreed to as a ground rule, OK sir?” Wallace asked, rhetorically.
The event was widely panned as the “worst debate ever.”
But both Biden and Trump said Wednesday that they’ll continue debating.
“I would like to,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “By every measure we won the debate easily last night. He was very weak. He looked weak. He was whining.”
The rules could change for the Miami debate. Bedingfield told reporters that “there will be some additional conversations.”
But on Wednesday, Trump said that he’d received good feedback. Also Wednesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates, which sponsors the events, issued a statement saying the organization “intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates.”
“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the organization said.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh criticized the announcement Wednesday and accused the commission of being biased.
“They’re only doing this because their guy got pummeled last night,” Murtaugh said. “President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs. They shouldn’t be moving the goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of the game.”
McClatchy DC White House correspondent Francesca Chambers contributed to this report.