MARIE HARF (CO-HOST): Ari, both of us have worked for presidents on campaigns, been involved in debate prep. Should the president go to the debates?
ARI FLEISCHER (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Well he should go to the debates. The question is should it be the National Commission on Debates' debates. You know the Bush campaign, we actually looked at doing this in 2000. We actually deliberated about not going as part of the national commission but going on Tim Russert's show Meet The Press, and we got hammered. Now because Bush cared about the press, we actually backed off of it because we cared what the press thought and took the reaction into account.
HARF: And do you think that was the right decision?
FLEISCHER: Trump will get hammered and he won’t care. Look, I think the issue is can Donald Trump assure himself fairness at the debates? And this is a great way to start to get fairness, by throwing this first fast ball at the heads of the debate posts to say, “You got to make sure this stays fair." But ultimately there has to be a debate. That's part of the process.
HARF: There has to be.
FLEISCHER: Who hosts it? I’m agnostic to.
HARRIS FAULKNER (CO-HOST): There is a necessity though, like you’re saying, because we’ve just seen Bloomberg as an organization, across 2,700 or so of its journalists say that they were going to cover the sides of the political campaign differently since Michael Bloomberg is now in the race and maybe not investigate him or the Democrats. Oh, but maybe investigate the GOP but cover everybody. So I do think that there is necessity to take a look at the fairness principle in all of this when you have a huge media organization willing to do things differently than it has in the past.
HARF: Melissa, I think he's trolling us, personally.
MELISSA FRANCIS (CO-HOST): With debate -- I think he's negotiating because the first point of negotiation you always start with, like, the way outside position. So it's like, “I’m not even going to show up." So that's a normal negotiation. I don’t know if I agree there has to be debates in the sense that we’ve broken every rule -- everything that was is gone. To me, I mean, I’m very anti-establishment, anti-the way things were done. I don't know, I mean maybe there’s a different way to do it more fair. We've ripped the plastic off the presidency.
FLEISCHER: If I’m President Trump I want to have a one-on-one with, say, Joe Biden. I want to pin Joe Biden down on Hunter. He won't think reporters can do it. He thinks he alone can do it. So I’m not sure it’s in Donald Trump’s interest not to stand on that stage.
FRANCIS: I don't know, but he gets to go -- he gets to spout at everybody every day without push back, so why would you sit there -- he’s going to say all the same things that he would to Joe Biden, to his face, he’s going to say it [on] Twitter, everywhere else and every -- he commands the cameras all the time.
FLEISCHER: When you say it to someone's face, it’s pretty powerful.
HARF: And there’s the pomp and circumstance to it, which he does like that part of the job. Kennedy, last word to you on this.
LISA KENNEDY (CO-HOST): He -- of course he's going to show up. And we have to stop taking his words as deeds. And it's completely fair to ask how did we get to this position. Why do we have this commission that decides and lords over --
KENNEDY: -- these presidential debate and may be, like NATO, we should be pulling it apart a little bit and rethinking this unholy alliance and have another paradigm shift. I don’t have a problem with that, and I think presidential candidates in the future will benefit from it, and he will show up.