The Democratic and Republican presidential nominees usually meet three times in the fall campaign. But with President Trump trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, the president's campaign tried Thursday to up the ante. Trump aides told the commission that handles the events that they want four debates this time, the New York Times reports, and that they want them to start earlier than usual. They said the first debate should be right after Labor Day to allow for early voting prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, added the selection of moderators to the negotiations Thursday. He wants to agree on the number of moderators and allow each side to strike some of the names chosen by the other side.
Last year, Trump threatened to skip the debates, Politico points out. Now, Biden's campaign said, Trump "wants to change the subject from his failed leadership." Trump lags in all recent presidential polls, including one released Thursday by Quinnipiac University that has him 8 percentage points down. The commission, which didn't comment immediately about the new wrinkles Thursday, already has three debates scheduled—plus one for the two nominees' running mates. Biden's campaign said he'll show up whenever and wherever the commission wants him to, as long as the president follows the same rules. "We are not going to ride the roller coaster of the ever-changing Trump campaign position on debates," a campaign official said. (Read more presidential debate stories.)