President Donald Trump announced that he would not participate in the second presidential debate after the debate commission announced a new virtual format following the president’s coronavirus infection.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Thursday that the second debate would be held virtually “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved.” The move came after Democratic nominee Joe Biden said that the next debate should be canceled if Trump is still infected.
The second debate is supposed to be a town hall format event hosted by C-SPAN host Steve Scully.
The commission planned to have Trump and Biden attend remotely while the audience and Scully were based in Miami.
Trump told Fox Business Thursday morning that he would not agree to the new terms.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said, alleging that the commission was “trying to protect” Biden.
“I’m not going to waste my time with a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate, that is ridiculous,” he said.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the decision was made “without consultation with our campaign.”
“Here are the facts: President Trump will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate, so there is no need for this unilateral declaration,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said. “The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head. We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”
Biden says he won’t either:
Biden’s campaign initially said that the former vice president would agree to the new format but later issued a statement saying he wouldn’t participate either after Trump pulled out.
“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,” said deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield.
“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.”
Bedingfield added that the campaign hopes the third debate, scheduled for October 22, will be a town hall format “so that the President is not able to evade accountability.”