Trump claims he won't participate in virtual debate
The Presidential Debate Commission announced Thursday that the presidential debate will be held virtually next week, with candidates attending from remote locations, as President Trump continues to be treated for the coronavirus.
But in a telephone interview with Maria Bartiromo, the Fox Business presenter, Trump said shortly after the format change was announced that he would not attend.
"I will not have a virtual debate," he said. "I'm not going to waste my time having a virtual debate. That's not what the debate is about. You sit behind a computer and have a debate, it's ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want."
On Wednesday, the commission announced that the town hall between Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden would be held remotely on October 15 to "protect the health and safety of all concerned" amid the ongoing pandemic and positive COVID- 19 diagnosis by Trump. The commission said that audience attendees and presenter, Steve Scully of C-SPAN, would be based in Miami, with Trump and Biden in "separate remote locations."
Trump's comments are non-binding and he sometimes makes bold public statements during negotiations, only to compromise afterwards.
Talking to reporters before leaving Delaware on Arizona election campaigns, Biden remained skeptical of whether Trump would actually skip the debate.
"We don't know what the president is going to do," said Biden. “He's changing his mind every second. It would be irresponsible for me to comment on this now. "
"I will follow the recommendations of the commission," added the former vice-president.
The president, who announced his diagnosis of COVID-19 on October 2, spent three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after falling ill at the White House. He received supplemental oxygen and an experimental cocktail of antibodies and steroids. He was released Monday.
President Trump in the first presidential debate on September 29th (Brian Snyder / Reuters)
Trump likely remains contagious to COVID-19. The CDC states on its website that patients with mild to moderate cases of the disease remain contagious for at least 10 days, while patients with more severe cases can transmit it for up to 20 days.
In his interview with Fox Business, Trump said he was continuing his steroid treatment in isolation, firing medical experts who believe he is still shedding the virus.
"I don't think I'm contagious," he said, adding, "I think I'm better. I would like to do a rally tonight."
The White House and Trump campaign did not reveal the last time the president tested negative for the virus.
When asked by Bartiromo whether he had recently been tested for the virus, Trump replied, "I will be tested on the first noon."
Shortly after Trump's statements, the Biden campaign said the former vice president had approved the virtual format.
"Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people," said Kate Bedingfield, communications director for the Biden campaign, "comparing his plan to bring the country together and rebuild it better to Donald Trump's failed leadership Regarding the coronavirus. " threw the strong economy he had inherited into its worst downturn since the Great Depression. "
In a subsequent statement, the Biden campaign suggested that the debate be postponed to October 22nd.
"Given the president's refusal to attend on October 15, we hope the Debate Commission will move Biden-Trump City Hall to October 22, so that the president cannot evade accountability," the statement said.
President Trump takes off his face mask after returning to the White House from the hospital on Monday. (Erin Scott / Reuters)
Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien, one of the president's many political and state advisers who recently caught the virus, released a statement complaining about the commission's decision and vowing that Trump would "hold a rally instead." .
"President Trump won the first debate despite having a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everyone knows it," Stepien said. "It is pathetic that the swamp creatures of the Presidential Debate Commission are now rushing to Joe Biden's defense by unilaterally canceling a personal debate." That is not what debates are about, or how they are conducted.
"Here are the facts: President Trump will have released several negative tests prior to the debate so this unilateral statement is not required," added Stepien. “The safety of everyone involved can easily be achieved without the voters losing the opportunity to pit both candidates against each other. We're going to pass this sad excuse to save Joe Biden and hold a rally instead. "
The Trump campaign later released another statement saying it would agree to postpone the dates of the debates for a week to allow the president to appear in person.
"The American people should not be deprived of the chance to see the two candidates for the presidential debate twice more in person just because the Presidential Debate Commission wants to protect Joe Biden," the statement said. “As President Trump said, virtual debate is a non-starter and would clearly be a gift to Biden as he would rely on his teleprompter from his basement bunker. Voters should have the opportunity to directly question Biden's 47-year-old failed leadership record. We agree that this should be done on October 22nd, and accordingly the third debate should then be postponed one week to October 29th. The CPD and the media cannot hide Joe Biden forever. Americans deserve to hear directly from both presidential candidates on these dates. "
The Biden campaign followed with a statement against the Trump campaign's request to postpone the date of the third debate.
"Donald Trump is not making the debate plan; the Debate Commission is doing so," the statement said. "We accepted the three dates - September 29, October 15 and October 22 - in June. Trump decided today to withdraw from the debate on October 15. Trump's erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar and select new dates of his choosing. We look forward to participating in the closing debate scheduled for October 22nd, which will be held for the last Debate has been set for 40 years. Donald Trump can appear or decline. That is his choice. "
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