/  10.08.2020

The Commission on Presidential Debates decided that the next debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden would happen remotely, and Trump is now refusing to participate. On Thursday morning (Oct. 8), the nonpartisan committee announced that the second presidential debate would instead be held as a virtual town hall, with both candidates appearing from remote locations.

The decision, the commission said, was made unilaterally in an effort “to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate.” The change-up arrives just a few days after Trump was released from the hospital after being diagnosed with Coronavirus.

Trump rejected the idea just moments after it was announced by the commission.

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” he told Fox Business News. According to the Associated Press, the Trump campaign plans to hold a rally that day instead of participating in the debate.

“For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic,” Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien 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.”

Biden’s campaign reportedly wants to go ahead with the virtual debate, though the Democratic nominee previously said they “shouldn’t have a debate” until Trump tests negative for COVID-19. Earlier this week, Biden said he was “looking forward to being able to debate” against Trump but expressed the need to “follow very strict guidelines.”

“Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement. 

Last night (Oct. 7), Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris faced off for their own debate, which was held in-person in Salt Lake City, Utah. The candidates were separated by a plexiglass shield as a COVID-19 safety precaution.

The second presidential debate is scheduled to take place next Thursday (Oct. 15). The moderator and attendees will gather in the original hosting site of Miami, while Trump and Biden are asked to appear remotely. The third and final debate is set for Oct. 22 in Nashville.


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