Trump vows not to participate in virtual debate with Biden

President Donald Trump vowed Thursday not to participate in next week’s debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden after organizers announced it will take place virtually because of the president’s diagnosis of COVID-19.

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump told Fox Business News, moments after the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced the changes.

The shakeup comes a week before Trump and Biden were set to square off for the second presidential debate in Miami. Biden’s campaign insisted its candidate was ready to move forward, but the future of the event is now in serious doubt.

The Commission on Presidential Debates made the decision unilaterally, citing the need “to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate.”

When Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris squared off for their only vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night, they shared a stage but were separated by plexiglass to prevent the spread of the virus.

Trump’s campaign said the president would do a rally instead of 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,” Bill Stepien, Trump campaign manager 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.”

Trump was hospitalized for three days but is now back at the White House recovering. He has vowed to return to the campaign trail soon. Still, the commission’s move is yet another indication that the presidential election is being dominated by the virus—defying the president’s monthslong attempts to underplay it and declare that the country was ready to move on.

Trump is thought to be trailing in key battleground states. Even before his COVID-19 diagnosis, he was widely criticized for his chaotic performance during last week’s first presidential debate in Cleveland. Next week’s debate, and a third one set for the following week in Nashville, would have been a chance for him to attempt to reset the election and potentially change its trajectory.

Biden aides argued that Trump’s pulling out could be a boon to their candidate. Given reactions to the chaotic first debate, they believe most voters, especially undecided voters, will see the president as avoiding a second debate out of his own interests, not because he dislikes the format.

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

Biden said earlier in the week that he was “looking forward to being able to debate him” but added “we’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines.” He said he and Trump “shouldn’t have a debate” as long as the president remains COVID positive.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced early Thursday the candidates would “participate from separate remote locations” while the participants and moderator remain in Miami, it said. Moments later, Trump vowed to skip the event entirely.

Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus a week ago, but in a Tuesday tweet said he looked forward to debating Biden a second time, “It will be great!” he tweeted.

He fell ill with the virus last Thursday, just 48 hours after debating Biden in person for the first time in Cleveland. While the two candidates remained a dozen feet apart during the debate, Trump’s infection sparked health concerns for Biden and sent him to undergo multiple COVID-19 tests before returning to the campaign trail.

Trump was still contagious with the virus when he was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday but his doctors have not provided any detailed update on his status. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can be contagious for as many as 10 days.

It’s not the first debate in which the candidates are not in the same room. In 1960, the third presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy was broadcast with the two candidates on opposite coasts.

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11 thoughts on “Trump vows not to participate in virtual debate with Biden

  1. Just as well. Who wants to hear him lie and disrupt a civil debate? He even admitted he doesn’t like the format since they could cut him off if he runs over time or interrupts. He’s like a toddler stomping his foot.

  2. Gotta’ love it; more power to him. In the first place, he’s not losing the game and in the second place, he’s got better things to do, fighting for the country’s soul against the evils financed by the likes of George Soros & Company, intent on taking down The United States of America; indeed, on all of western culture.

    That said, I did e-mail The White House after the first debate and told him to cool it, that in order for Biden to hang himself, Trump had to be still long enough for Biden to get the noose around his own neck, which Biden will surely do if given the time to do so.

    1. Bob P. In your mind he might be fighting for the soul of the country, but for my tastes, I would rather he be fighting for the lives of the citizens of the United States. You must have missed the fact that more than 200,000+ have died under Trump’s supreme leadership and that Trump has become a personal super-spreader in the White House.

      I am so glad you have personally toned down the walking ego bag that is supposedly President, Mr Trump.

  3. Trump did not participate in a debate the first time. The definition of a debate is: a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward.” Those “arguments” are generally supposed to be fact based. There was no “formal discussion” with Trump shouting insults over the everyone else.

  4. Dan M: While you are fretting over 210,000 Wuhan Virus deaths which you want to lay at President Trump’s feet, how many Americans with NO pre-existing conditions were intentionally killed by legal abortions during the same time..a procedure the Dumbocrats heartily endorse and want taxpayers to fund?

    And the soul of the country IS its citizens, so I have no idea what you mean that you would rather Trump fight for lives of citizens of the United States, rather than the country’s soul. You make no sense.

  5. We all thought Trump was scared to debate, know we know it. A virtual debate would be more focused on what he was saying and less on his bullying/loud mouth obnoxious behavior…..

  6. Dan M: Thanks to Ryan Bomberger’s Radiance Foundation, I can enlighten you as to the number of abortions during the period of time you blame Trump for 210,000 deaths. Let’s use the period February-September this year as the time frame. During that time, The Wuhan Virus killed 210,000 Americans. Planned Parenthood alone, not counting other abortion providers, killed an estimated 87,000 BLACK babies, which comprise about 30% of the abortions performed in the country, per Ryan’s information. That means Planned Parenthood alone killed 290,000 preborn Americans, again not counting those killed at other abortion facilities….few preborns, if any, of which had pre-existing conditions, other than people tolerating this culture-destroying practice, rather than speaking out against it as does President Trump.

  7. Really Bob P – that’s some stretch of your imagination right there. Did we just make up numbers and try and make this a racial debate? sounds like it to me. News flash – the aborted babies are the same people you complain about using welfare or public assistance. Children being born to adults who frankly don’t want to raise the child or flat out don’t have the means or abilities necessary to do so. I would rather quality living for humans versus the quantity of humans suffering and eventually living off the govt… good day sir!

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