WASHINGTON – The fate of final debates between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden was thrown into uncertainty Thursday as the campaigns offered dueling proposals for moving forward with the faceoffs.
It was unclear when or how the next debates would proceed, or whether voters would even get to see the two men running for the White House on the same stage again.
The day began with an announcement from the Commission on Presidential Debates, which said the next debate, a town hall-style affair set for Oct. 15 in Miami, would be held virtually. The commission cited health concerns following Trump’s coronavirus infection as the reason for the change.
Trump said he wouldn’t participate if the debate wasn’t in person. Biden’s campaign then suggested the event be delayed a week until Oct. 22, which is when the third and final debate is already scheduled.
Next, Trump countered again, agreeing to a debate Oct. 22 – but only if face to face – and asking that a third contest be added Oct. 29. Biden’s advisers rejected squaring off that late in the campaign.
The debate commission, which has the unenviable task of finding common ground between the campaigns, did not weigh in on any of the new proposals. The organization has come under scrutiny already after the first debate between Trump and Biden deteriorated.
With the debate schedule unclear, Biden moved to make sure he would still appear in front of a television audience next week. Instead of debating Trump on Oct. 15, he will take part in an ABC News-sponsored town hall.
As he campaigned in Arizona on Thursday, Biden said he would also attend the Oct. 22 debate, currently scheduled for Nashville, regardless of Trump’s plans.
“We agreed to three debates back in the summer,” Biden said. “I’m showing up. I’ll be there. And if, in fact, he shows up, fine. If he doesn’t, fine.”
In an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo after the commission’s announcement, Trump said he was in “great shape” and called the idea of a virtual debate a joke.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” he said.
The president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said Trump would stage a rally rather than debate Oct. 15.
Meanwhile, in Boulder City, Nev., Vice President Mike Pence applauded Trump on Thursday for his handling of the pandemic, his opposition to abortion and his support for police.
Pence even credited the president with winning the vice presidential debate Wednesday between Pence and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris.
“Some people think we did all right,” Pence said.
He went on to cast the debate held the night prior in Utah as a debate between two visions. “There’s no question who won the debate: President Donald Trump won the debate, hands down,” he said.
He repeated many of the points he made during Wednesday’s debate, criticizing Biden and his running mate, portraying Biden as ineffective in his years serving in the U.S. government and pushing back against the notion that there is systemic racism in police departments.
“President Trump and I know, we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and supporting our African American neighbors,” he said. “Under this president, we’re going to have law and order in every city in every state for every American of every race and creed and color, so help us God.”
Pence’s praise for the president and pitch for another four years in the White House comes 26 days before the election as Nevada voters began receiving ballots in the mail. Nevada, which Trump lost by a slim margin in 2016, is considered a battleground.
While the president has been recovering from the coronavirus in Washington, Pence said Trump would be “back on the campaign trail before you know it.”
The vice president, campaigning in Trump’s stead, planned to hold a rally in Peoria, Ariz., later Thursday.
Pence was introduced by his wife, Karen Pence. Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Republican congressional candidate Dan Rodimer also spoke at the event.
The Bowling Green Hot Rods will host their inaugural “Pumpkins at the Park” event at Bowling Green Ballpark from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The two-day event is an opportunity for visitors to pick pumpkins from Goebel Farms in Evansville, Ind.
Pumpkin prices range from $5 to $10, and all proceeds from the event will go to Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky and The Buddy House for Down Syndrome.
Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky is a nonprofit made up of parents, family members, friends, community members and professionals who support those born with Down syndrome.
The organization, which has a 10-county outreach, opened the doors to The Buddy House in 2013.
This idea for a fundraiser came from Hot Rods’ COO and General Manager Eric Leach, who is on the board of directors for Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues this year has brought on, our fundraising has really been down,” Leach said. “We came up with this idea in just the past two weeks, and we think it’s something the public will really enjoy.”
Leach said more than 400 pumpkins will be available to choose from thanks in part to Goebel Farms selling the popular fall item wholesale for different charities.
All visitors will be asked to follow public health guidelines and socially distance from others.
The forecast Saturday is for rain from the remnants of Hurricane Delta, but Leach said the event will happen rain or shine.
In preparation for the potential bad weather, the pumpkins are set up under the stadium’s concourse.
Pumpkin picking will not be the only attraction available as multiple vendors will sell fall-themed items like apple cider coffee. A photo booth will also be available.
Leach said he wants “Pumpkins at the Park” to be an annual festival that grows into a large celebration.
“Our main goal for this is to connect the community with The Buddy House,” Leach said. “We want to highlight what they do and how special the individuals are who are supported by Down Syndrome of South Central Kentucky.”
Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson took the rare step of attacking a city commissioner this week on Facebook, using a paper analyzing the 2018 city commission campaign written by Western Kentucky University students as a basis to label Dana Beasley Brown as “deceptive” and “radical.”
Beasley Brown called the attack a “slander ... I had no knowledge of these (candidate) profiles and had nothing to do with creating them,” she wrote on a Facebook post.
Beasley Brown declined to further comment beyond her statement posted on Facebook.
In another statement posted on Facebook, the students who wrote the campaign analysis of Beasley Brown’s successful city commission race in 2018 said the paper was a requirement for a campaign management class and that Beasley Brown had no knowledge of “this paper and was not consulted on the writing, editing or submission of this assignment.”
The students were volunteers on her campaign but “were not involved in any decision-making process. ... We were undergraduate students learning about political campaigns,” they wrote.
Wilkerson stood by his criticism Thursday, saying “it’s fair to review an analysis of those who participated in that campaign.”
The mayor admitted he didn’t know if Beasley Brown had any knowledge of the paper before it was written, or if she agreed with it.
“I just read the document and made my analysis,” he said.
The paper includes an analysis of other candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, messaging strategies and fundraising opportunities using political campaign textbooks as a guide.
In the Facebook post, Wilkerson said the paper showed Beasley Brown’s “radical leftist agenda” and a deceptive campaign.
Wilkerson said he would take responsibility for the actions or words of any of his supporters or campaign workers.
In their statement, the authors of the paper wrote that “it is sad that our work in an undergraduate class in 2018 has been used in such a deceitful and falsified way. It’s unfortunate that community representatives sought to use our undergraduate paper for personal gain.”
Beasley Brown is one of 10 candidates seeking election to the commission. Wilkerson was also seeking reelection but in September dropped his bid, citing health issues.
In her Facebook post, Beasley Brown wrote that “overall, I am saddened that some of my colleagues (and other candidates) have maligned and misrepresented these students’ work. I am disheartened that those who have been respected as leaders in our community are using it to slander me. And more importantly, that these innocent students have been brought into a side of the political system that may make them question their involvement moving forward. ... I trust that you, the citizens of Bowling Green, will not get wrapped up in this level of unnecessary drama. Our focus should be on moving forward and making things better for everyone and not on pulling people down.”
– Follow Managing Editor Wes Swietek on Twitter @WesSwietek or visit bgdailynews.com.
One of the most frequent requests Corinne Murphy receives from school districts as dean of Western Kentucky University’s College of Education and Behavioral Sciences is for help with addressing the state’s teacher shortage.
Now, Murphy has an answer.
This week, the college announced two new scholarship programs, the WKU Grow Your Own and GameChangers Teaching Initiative. They are aimed at funneling aspiring teachers into area school districts and cultivating a diverse teacher workforce, respectively.
“Superintendents, since I’ve arrived, have said ‘What do we do to get more people in the pipeline, more students in the pipeline and more students from our own community?’ That’s what makes these initiatives somewhat different,” Murphy said in an interview Wednesday.
In recent years, WKU’s education college has been working to develop a talent pipeline between graduates and regional schools.
Those efforts have included reforms to its program curriculum, and earlier this year, the announcement of a $1 million federal grant-funded initiative to prepare special education teachers and speech-language pathologists through Project PREP.
Now, to further develop those efforts, the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences is working with several area school districts to pilot its two new scholarship programs.
For its Grow Your Own initiative, WKU is partnering with Russellville Independent Schools. Under the project, undergraduate education students will follow the traditional route through the school’s program but then move to a district-based clinical model for practicum and student teaching experiences in their home district, a news release announcing the scholarships said. WKU hopes to expand district partners for this scholarship program in the next few years.
Students receiving support under the program are expected to teach in their partner district for a number of years after they graduate, Murphy said.
“For every year of support we provide you, that’s one year of expected service as a teacher that you would provide the district,” Murphy said.
“So our students out in Russellville, who are undergraduate students, who are going to be supported for four years toward their undergraduate degree, you know the expectation is they return to Russellville and they’re actually a classroom teacher for at least four years,” Murphy said. “They have the opportunity to grow within that Russellville School District experience.”
To facilitate the program’s expansion to other neighboring school districts, Murphy said the college is working with area high schools to launch Educators Rising chapters. While promoting the teaching profession, the plan is to have these student organizations also draw interested students to the Grow Your Own scholarship program, Murphy said.
WKU’s GameChangers initiative also offers an avenue for current school district staff to attend and earn teaching credentials through the university’s graduate education programs.
WKU is launching the program with Warren County Public Schools, the Bowling Green Independent School District and the GameChangers – a local advocacy group that supports equal employment opportunities for the African American community. It’s honing in on enhancing opportunities for Black and under-represented individuals in the education profession.
Murphy said the GameChangers scholarship uses program ambassadors to promote the opportunity among their colleagues.
“Each district has a GameChangers representative working in the district,” Murphy said. “They are actively recruiting professional staff at the district level into the program and making sure that those professional staff (members) are aware of the opportunity.”
Candidates are then encouraged to apply for the program, which requires a referral from the district, Murphy said.
Murphy said the program has already received queries from potential applicants.
“We’ve gotten some inquiries, and we’re able to connect those district staff people who are interested,” with the ambassadors, Murphy said.
– For more information on how to apply for either grant, contact the dean’s office at the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at 270-745-4664 or Tammy Spinks at email@example.com.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.