US President Donald Trump on Thursday October 8, said that he would not participate in the second televised debate with Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, next week after the commission responsible for producing the debate forums announced that it will be conducted virtually due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“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 on Thursday October 8.
“You sit behind a computer and do a debate. It’s ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Trump’s remarks come after the Commission on Presidential Debates(CPD) revealed Thursday morning that the town hall-style event on Oct. 15 would feature the two candidates participating virtually “from separate remote locations.”
According to the CPD the town hall participants and moderator Steve Scully of C-SPAN will be located as planned at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.
The shift to a virtual format was necessitated due to Trump’s recovery from Covid-19 at the White House, days after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical center.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien reaffirmed the president’s position in a statement, saying Trump will “pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”
According to Stepien, Trump “will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate,” and insisted that the “safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head.”
In her own statement, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield suggested the former vice president would take part in the virtual event, saying that Biden “looks forward to speaking directly to the American people.”
Trump had previously signaled that he intended to take part in the debate despite his diagnosis, tweeting Tuesday that he was “looking forward” to the forum on Oct. 15 and that it “will be great!”
On Tuesday October 6, Biden said that “we shouldn’t have a debate” if Trump remains infected with the coronavirus.
The commission announced last week it was exploring alternative formats for next week’s debate in the aftermath of the first clash between Trump and Biden — which saw the president repeatedly interrupt his Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.
The commission announced last week that the first debate demonstrated the need for “additional structure” in the format of the remaining forums to “ensure a more orderly discussion.”
Sean Conley, the president’s personal physician, reported in a memo Wednesday that Trump has “been fever-free for more than 4 days, symptom-free for over 24 hours, and has not needed nor received any supplemental oxygen since initial hospitalization.”