On Thursday morning, directly following the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday night, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that the second presidential debate scheduled for Thursday, October 15 will be virtual.
“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the CPD announced. It claimed that the move was made “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved” with the next debate. This was ostensibly due to the president’s recent diagnosis with COVID-19.
President Trump immediately blasted the move by the debate commission, which was made without input from either presidential campaign. He said that if the next debate is virtual, he won’t waste his time participating.
“The commission changed the debate style and that’s not acceptable to us,” the president told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria.”
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate. I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate,” he added.
Shortly thereafter, Trump 2020 Campaign Manager Bill Stepien also ripped the CDP’s decision.
“President Trump will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate, so there is no need for this unilateral declaration,” he said in a statement. “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.”
For his part, Democrat candidate Joe Biden said, “I’m going to follow the commission recommendations.”
Later in the day, the Trump campaign shifted its message and floated the idea of postponing each of the last two presidential debates by one week. The campaign proposed the second presidential debate take place on October 22 rather than October 15, and then the third debate occurs on October 29.
“The American people should not be deprived of the chance to see the two candidates for president debate face to face two more times just because the Commission on Presidential Debates wants to protect Joe Biden. It remains extremely suspect that the CPD announced the brand new virtual format at 7:30am ET today immediately after Vice President Mike Pence had just wiped the floor with Senator Kamala Harris,” the campaign said.
“The CPD and the media cannot hide Joe Biden forever. Americans deserve to hear directly from both presidential candidates on these dates, October 22 and 29,” it added.
The Biden campaign quickly rejected the proposal.
“Donald Trump doesn’t make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does. We accepted the three dates — Sept. 29, Oct. 15, and Oct. 22 — in June. Trump chose today to pull out of the October 15th debate,” the Biden campaign said.
“We look forward to participating in the final debate, scheduled for October 22, which already is tied for the latest debate date in 40 years. Donald Trump can show up, or he can decline again. That’s his choice.”
Additionally, the Biden campaign announced its candidate will take part in a town hall hosted by ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos on October 15 should the second debate not take place.
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