Who is Frank Fahrenkorpf? How debate commission co-chair got embroiled in Trump and Biden campaign back-and-forth

'I think the president wasn’t perhaps properly briefed by his people as to what we’re talking about when we’re talking about a virtual debate,' said Frank Fahrenkorpf


                            Who is Frank Fahrenkorpf? How debate commission co-chair got embroiled in Trump and Biden campaign back-and-forth
Frank Fahrenkopf (Getty Images)

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced on Thursday, October 8, that the second debate (October 15) between presidential candidate Joe Biden and President Donald Trump will be made virtual. After the announcement, Trump revealed that he refused to take part in a virtual debate while speaking to Fox Business. Trump, who has been diagnosed with Covid-19, said, “I'm not going to do a virtual debate. No, I'm not going to waste my time with a virtual debate.”

Now, CPD’s co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf defended the decision. He explained that the decision was taken “not only [by] his [Trump's] diagnosis and what happened in Cleveland but what's happened in the White House in the last week or so [with] so many people having to be tested and quarantined.”

Fahrenkorpf further explained that in the coronavirus situation they want to ensure that everyone is safe. “We have 65 people who work and build these sets and so forth and in a town hall meeting we have private citizens who are going to be there. We want to make sure that everyone is safe and we will go the hard way and not take a chance. That's why we decided if we were going to have this, we had to do it virtually to make sure everyone was safe.”

Earlier, the Biden campaign shared that the former vice president was ready to take part in the virtual event. In a statement to ABC News, the campaign said, "Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump's failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression."

But as per latest developments reported by NPR, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement, “Joe Biden was prepared to accept the CPD's proposal for a virtual Town Hall, but the President has refused, as Donald Trump clearly does not want to face questions from the voters about his failures on COVID and the economy. As a result, Joe Biden will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks.” As per the report, it was announced on October 8 afternoon that Biden will instead take part in a town hall in Philadelphia hosted by ABC News on October 15.

These decisions, as mentioned by Fahrenkorpf in his interview with Fox News, “has created difficulty for us whether or not the Miami debate will really take place.” When asked about Trump’s reaction to the news, he said, “The president said, ‘You don’t want that kind of debate where you’re sitting in front of a computer.’ You’re not. The provisions were they would sit wherever they wanted to – the president could do it from the Oval Office. There would be press people present, also with Biden, people there to make sure he wasn’t reading off a teleprompter. I think the president wasn’t perhaps properly briefed by his people as to what we’re talking about when we’re talking about a virtual debate.”

Who is Frank Fahrenkopf?

Fahrenkopf is a lawyer. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. He was the chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1983 to 1989. Fahrenkopf is currently co-chairman of CPD which conducts the United States general election presidential and vice-presidential debates. He also served as the American Gaming Association's first president and retired from the position in 2013. According to iop.harvard.edu, he was the chairman of the American Bar Association (ABA) Committee on Gaming Law and a founding trustee and president of the International Association of Gaming Attorneys – an organization of government gaming regulators and private attorneys acting on behalf of licensed gaming enterprises. He was a Fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2014.

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