Oct 8, 2020

News | Politics | US Election: Trump refuses to participate in virtual debate on Oct. 15: 'I'm not going to waste my time'


Christina Wilkie

WASHINGTON -- The second presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, slated to take place on Oct. 15, will be held virtually, the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates said Thursday. 

Minutes later, Trump said he would not participate. “No i’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” he said.

Citing a need to “protect the health and safety of all involved,” the commission said in a statement, “The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations.”

The debate’s location in Miami, Florida and the moderator, C-SPAN’s Steve Scully will remain unchanged, they said.

The announcement came six days after Trump announced early last Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for coronavirus. 

 Since Trump’s diagnosis, more than a dozen White House officials have tested positive for Covid-19.

The president was later transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he spent the next three days receiving an aggressive treatment of therapies under the care of a team of doctors. 

Trump was discharged from the hospital Monday into the care of White House physicians who say he is steadily improving.

It is unclear exactly when Trump was first infected with the virus or when he last tested negative for it before his positive tests last Thursday. Both of these factors make it difficult to assess when the president will no longer be contagious to others. 

A day after he left Walter Reed hospital, Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he was “looking forward to the debate,” despite still being treated for Covid-19. Trump’s campaign said the president wanted to participate in the debate “in person.” 

Earlier this week, Biden said if Trump remains infectious then the debate should be called off, but added that he would follow medical professionals’ advice.

The first debate between the two candidates last Tuesday in Cleveland, Ohio quickly devolved into a fiasco after Trump refused to stop talking when his allotted time was finished, and continued to interrupt and insult Biden for the remainder of the debate. 

Biden also grew frustrated during the 90 minute debate, at one point calling the president “a clown.” 

Following the disaster in Cleveland, the commission said it was exploring ways to give the debate moderators more ways to enforce the previously-agreed upon rules if and when candidates refused to obey them.

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