The second presidential debate has been canceled, after President Donald Trump refused to participate in a modified virtual debate announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates earlier this week to ensure the safety of both candidates amid the President’s ongoing recovery from COVID-19.
“On October 8, CPD announced that for the health and safety of all involved, the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15 in Miami, would be conducted virtually,” the commission said in a statement Friday.
“Subsequently, the campaigns of the two candidates who qualified for participation in the debate made a series of statements concerning their respective positions regarding their willingness to participate in a virtual debate on October 15, and each now has announced alternate plans for that date.
“It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15,” the commission said.
The final debate on Oct. 22 is still expected to take place in Nashville at Belmont University where CDC guidelines for masking and social distancing will be enforced to ensure the the safety of both candidates for a one-on-one debate moderated by NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker.
The Trump campaign on Friday railed against CPD’s decision by again suggesting that there is “no medical reason” to stop the debate even though the White House has not yet provided evidence that President Trump is no longer infectious.
“There’s nothing that says that President Trump and Joe Biden can’t debate together without the overlords at the commission having a say in the matter. We would be glad to debate one-on-one without the commission’s interference,” campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
President Trump has not yet confirmed that he has received a negative test for coronavirus which the CDC has said is a definitive benchmark for determining whether or not a person remains contagious.
The debate’s cancellation comes after President Trump earlier this week rejected a virtual debate format that had put in place for the safety of both candidates after President Trump announced a positive test for coronavirus just days after leaving the debate stage in Cleveland, Ohio.
On Wednesday the Biden campaign announced that it had booked the Democratic presidential nominee for a town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia on the originally scheduled date for the debate.
The Trump campaign is preparing to hold a counter event hosted by NBC, potentially on the same night, three people with knowledge of the conversations told The New York Times.
The Biden campaign on Friday called Trump’s refusal to participate in the virtual contest “no surprise.”
“It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions — but it’s no surprise. Everyone knows that Donald Trump likes to bully reporters, but obviously he doesn’t have the guts to answer for his record to voters at the same time as Vice President Biden,” Andrew Bates a Biden campaign spokesman said in a statement Friday.