A former Republican senator who sits on the Commission on Presidential Debates has hit back at President Donald Trump and his supporters’ attacks on the integrity of the nonpartisan organization, warning of the “incalculable” damage they pose to the country.
Former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), who left the Senate in 1995, explained in an op-ed for The Washington Post Tuesday ― titled “Trump’s attack on the debate commission is an attack on the election itself” ― that he’d maintained “a strict vow of silence regarding my personal feelings about the current presidential campaign” but now felt “compelled to respond” to the criticism and conspiracy theories leveled at the commission by Trump and his allies.
Trump and his campaign attacked the first debate’s moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, as biased. They have also baselessly suggested the debates are “rigged” in favor of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
The president refused to take part in the second debate, a town hall event, after the commission changed it to a virtual format following Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis. Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden during the first debate, causing the commission to announce this week that Thursday’s third and final debate will have new rules to mute microphones.
“The president’s apparent strategy is to challenge the validity of the election should he lose,” wrote Danforth, who in the column debunked many of Trump and his campaign’s claims.
“It is not the honor of the commission that is at stake here,” he concluded. “What is at stake is Americans’ belief in the fairness of our presidential debates and, in turn, the presidential election. When that faith is undermined, the damage to our country is incalculable.”
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