The second presidential debate will be virtual, the committee on Presidential Debates said on Thursday — if it even happens.
“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town hall meeting, in which the candidates would participate from seperate remote locations,” the committee said in a statement. It will take place October 15 and be moderated by C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully, who will be in Miami with the town hall participants.
Shortly afterward that announcement, however, Trump told Fox Business that a virtual debate was “not acceptable to us.”
“I’m not gonna do a virtual debate,” Trump said. “I’m not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate? It’s ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Trump’s campaign manager who has also tested positive, Bill Stepien, said in a statement after Trump’s comments that the decision “is not what debates are about or how they’re done.” Stepien claimed without evidence that Trump would have tested negative by the day of the debate, and said the campaign would do a rally next Thursday instead.
“For the swamp creatures at the Committee on Presidential Debates to rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic,” Stepien said.
“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.”
Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, two days after the first presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. He was released from the hospital Monday; the White House has thus far refused to say when he last tested negative.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that he was “looking forward” to the second debate.
Biden said Tuesday that there shouldn’t be a second debate if Trump still had COVID and said his decision to debate would be “guided by the guidelines of the Cleveland Clinic and what the docs say is the right thing to do.”
“Well, I think if he still has Covid, we shouldn’t have a debate,” Biden said. “I think we’re gonna have to follow very strict guidelines. Too many people have been infected and it’s a very serious problem.”
“I’m looking forward to being able to debate him. But I just hope all the protocols are followed, what’s necessary at the time,” he said.
Cover: President Donald Trump, left, reacts as former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)