Top state lawmakers want a presidential debate in N.C.

Published 5:16 pm Friday, August 7, 2020

By Bryan Anderson

Associated Press/Report for America

RALEIGH — At a time when many voters are growing weary of the contentious campaign ads that have flooded the airwaves, North Carolina’s top legislative leaders want even more political drama in the swing state.

Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore wrote in a joint letter Friday to the Commission on Presidential Debates that the group should let the Tar Heel State host a debate in early September before some states begin early voting.

“Unfortunately, by the first time the presidential debate happens on Sept. 29, 2020, voters in North Carolina will have already started voting,” the Republicans wrote. “North Carolinians who vote early deserve the same opportunity afforded to other states to hear the two competing visions for our country and make a well-informed decision when casting their vote.”

The longshot push for an extra debate comes one day after the commission denied a request from the Trump campaign to either add a debate or move the schedule up. Three presidential debates are currently scheduled in Cleveland on Sept. 29, Florida on Oct. 15 and Nashville on Oct. 22. The vice presidential debate will be held in Salt Lake City on Oct. 7. Election Day is Nov. 3.

The commission left open the possibility of an extra debate if both candidates agreed to it.

The commission said it would consider the request if the candidates agreed they wished to add to the schedule. But the commission “remains committed to the schedule of debates it has planned as reflected in the attached release,” it wrote in response to the Trump campaign’s request.
Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.