Virtual or not, next week or not? 2nd presidential debate in limbo with Trump’s refusal to participate remotely
WASHINGTON (KKTV) - A second debate between presidential hopefuls could be in jeopardy after President Donald Trump rejected participating in a proposed virtual debate, resulting in sparring back and forth between the campaigns over a new date.
“I’m not going to waste my time on virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about,” Trump said in an interview on Fox Business less than an hour after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced changing the format of the Oct. 15 town hall event from in-person to virtual. “You sit behind a computer and do a debate. It’s ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want.”
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said it was changing the format for the health and safety of its participants. The president announced Oct. 2 he tested positive for the highly-contagious coronavirus, which was just a little over 48 hours after the first debate between the two candidates. The White House has declined to disclose when Trump last tested negative for the virus, and it’s unknown if he was symptomatic when he and Biden squared off on the same stage Sept. 29. Democratic challenger Joe Biden had expressed concerns about holding an in-person debate if Trump was not confirmed to be COVID-free. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms can be contagious for at least 10 days.
Trump railed against the virtual debate during his interview with Fox, vowing not to participate. His campaign released a statement a short time later, reading in part, “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. That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done.”
Biden’s campaign said he was prepared to accept the proposed virtual debate, but with the president’s refusal, he would find “an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on Oct. 15.” His campaign proposed instead pushing the town hall debate to Oct. 22, which is when the third debate is currently scheduled.
“The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly. Every presidential candidate since 1992 has participated in such an event, and it would be a shame if Donald Trump was the first to refuse.”
Trump’s campaign agreed to the Oct. 22 date provided it was face to face and offered up Oct. 29 as a new date for the third debate. Biden’s campaign rejected a debate that late in the election cycle; the 29th is a Thursday and Election Day is the following Tuesday,
The Commission on Presidential Debates has not weighed in on any of the proposed dates.
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