The presidential campaigns of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden exchanged barbs on Tuesday just hours before the two were to meet for their first debate.
The Trump team claimed the Biden campaign had reneged on an agreement to conduct a pre-debate inspection for electronic earpieces and had asked for multiple breaks during their faceoff.
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“Of course he’s not wearing an earpiece, and we never asked for breaks,” The Washington Post quoted Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield as saying in a conference call.
Bedingfield fired back with a jab of her own.
“If we’re playing that game, then you know, the Trump team asked (moderator) Chris Wallace not to mention the number of deaths from Covid once during the debate,” she said.
“You can consider that confirmed from the Biden campaign,” Bedingfield said. “See how easy that was to try to throw up a distraction?”
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh denied any such request had been made to the Fox News host who will moderate the debate Tuesday night at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio.
“This is a lie and it never happened,” Murtaugh said in a statement. “This is the height of playing politics with a public health crisis.
“Biden is trying to distract from the facts that he won’t submit to an inspection for earpieces, won’t take a drug test, and needs multiple breaks during the 90-minute debate,” he said.
For months Trump has painted Biden as senile, recently suggesting he takes performance enhancing drugs and demanding he be tested — a demand Biden has laughed off.
Trump and Biden are scheduled to hold three debates before the November 3 election.
The former vice president currently leads the incumbent in national polls.