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Kaine, Warner ‘disappointed’ that Biden debate schedule bypasses Virginia State University

Chris Graham
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Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner aren’t happy that the presidential debate schedule proposed by President Biden this week puts the planned Oct. 1 Virginia State University debate in limbo.

“I want to make absolutely plain that it would be a huge mistake, a huge mistake, for President Biden or Donald Trump to cast aside the debate at Virginia State. There’s a history-making opportunity,” Kaine told reporters on a conference call this week.

“We’re both bitterly disappointed,” said Warner, who worked with Kaine to go to bat to have Virginia State University included in the schedule for the three debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

VSU would be the first HBCU to host a presidential debate, with the Commission on Presidential Debates putting its debate on the schedule for Oct. 1.

The Biden campaign, earlier this week, proposed a schedule of two presidential debates, one to air on ABC, the second on CBS, putting the Commission on Presidential Debates schedule to question.

Virginia State University still lists the Oct. 1 scheduled debate on its website, and the school issued a statement on Friday addressing the situation.

“Virginia State University is disappointed to hear media reports suggesting that the U.S. presidential candidates may not participate in the scheduled Oct. 1, 2024, debate at VSU. A presidential debate at VSU is a huge win, not only for our students and campus community but for the greater community in general,” the school said in the statement.

“We will continue to work closely with the Commission on Presidential Debates and other stakeholders as we assess this situation. VSU will continue to provide updates and further details as they become available.”

A proposal from Fox News to host a vice presidential debate was accepted by Trump, who suggested Virginia State University by name as a possible host, but the Biden campaign does not appear warm to the idea of having Fox host a VP debate, and VSU officials emphasized that the school has “made no commitments” beyond the original debate schedule.

Warner, for his part, said he and Kaine haven’t given up on the idea of having Virginia State University host one of the two presidential debates that Biden and Trump have now agreed to.

“They’ve obviously made the first one, the decision to do it in a studio in Atlanta. I still think the second debate, we’re going to still push for VSU,” Warner said.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].