The second presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat nominee Joe Biden will now be a virtual contest and not in person, it was announced Thursday morning.
Trump immediately responded to the news by rejecting the plan. AP reports he simply said, “I’m not going to do a virtual debate.”
The president’s own campaign team then issued a confirmation of his rejection: It read:
President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everybody knows it. 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.
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. 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.
The change in the nature of the exchange has been pinned on the president’s diagnosis of COVID-19.
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates debates made the announcement a week before the two were scheduled to face off again.
The candidates will instead “participate from separate remote locations,” while the town hall participants and moderator Steve Scully remain in Miami, the commission said.
Biden has previously said he and Trump “shouldn’t have a debate” as long as the president remains coronavirus positive, as Breitbart News reported.
Lisa Desjardins of PBS also reported a “Biden senior source” said it is “hard to see that debate happening” between Trump and Biden on October 15:
NEW, THIS. Biden senior source on next presidential debate (Oct. 15):
– No one had talked about it, but it’s —> “hard to see that debate happening” as it is planned now.
– Pointed out the president is not just COVID positive but is actually sick.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) October 2, 2020
For his part, Biden told reporters in Pennsylvania he was “looking forward to being able to debate him” but said, “We’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines.”
The Biden team then made this announcement:
Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump’s failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
The next presidential debate is scheduled to take place October 15.
AP contributed to this story.