Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and an adviser to his debate preparations, said Monday there is “no reason to delay” next week’s forum with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden — even though Trump remains hospitalized with Covid-19.
In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the former New York mayor said “it’s very possible” the upcoming town hall-style event will proceed as planned on Oct. 15 if Trump “keeps making progress” in his fight against the coronavirus.
“The doctors assume that by a certain time, he’s going to be in condition. I assume he’s going to be in condition by then to do it. Can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t. And there’s no reason to delay,” Giuliani said.
“There’s only two more left,” he added, referring to the remaining pair of presidential debates. “They’re enormously valuable to the American people. And I think he’ll make every effort to make it. I’m certain he will.”
Biden, departing Delaware for a campaign day-trip to Miami, also indicated Monday that he would be willing to participate in the next debate, but advised that “we should be very cautious” in organizing the event.
“If scientists say that it’s safe … then I think that’s fine,” he told reporters before departing for Miami. “I’ll do whatever the experts say is appropriate for me to do.”
The president’s medical team said Sunday that Trump could be discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as early as Monday to “continue his treatment course” at the White House.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows also said Monday that officials are “still optimistic” Trump will return to the White House later in the day.
But Sean Conley, the president’s physician, appeared to confirm Sunday that Trump’s condition is more serious than the White House had so far acknowledged, and Trump could very well be confined to the Executive Residence for the near future.
The White House has refused to provide detailed information regarding the timeline of the president’s symptoms and Covid-19 tests. But it is possible that Trump, who was hospitalized Friday evening, was most contagious Tuesday — as the first presidential debate unfolded in Cleveland.
Biden’s campaign announced Sunday that the former vice president had tested negative for Covid-19 for at least the third time since Friday. He could still be at risk, however, as the disease is known to incubate for up to two weeks.
Giuliani also expressed aversion Monday to any format changes to future debates. The nonpartisan commission responsible for producing the televised events previewed the potential changes last week after Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden and moderator Chris Wallace during the first forum.
“I would not put in new rules for — you know, in the middle of the campaign,” Giuliani said. “I would — through us or if they want to do it directly, I think maybe just remind both candidates, ‘Stay within your two minutes. Don’t interrupt.’ I think they both understand what happened last time.”
Of course, Trump continued to bulldoze through Biden’s responses and Wallace’s questions last week even after being reminded of the rules governing speaking time that were agreed upon beforehand by both campaigns.
Giulani appeared to acknowledge Monday that Trump’s belligerence in his first face-off with Biden was indeed a debate tactic, saying: “Yeah, it was his strategy. It was his strategy to stay on top of [Biden].”
“I think we told the president, ‘We don’t want the story coming out that he dominated you.’ And the president sure didn’t let that story come out,” Giualini said.
According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted last Wednesday, 86 percent of all voters who watched the debate said the candidates were “interruptive” — but not in equal measure. The vast majority of respondents said Trump butted in more than Biden, 71 percent to 18 percent.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what role Giuliani was playing in debate negotiations on behalf of the campaign.
In negotiations for the first debate, Trump was represented by Rick Ahearn, who also helped lead debate negotiations for him in 2016, and Max Miller, the deputy campaign manager for presidential operations, POLITICO previously reported.
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