President Donald Trump said he won’t participate in the second presidential debate against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the second debate format would be changed from an in-person event to a virtual one.
“I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that’s not what debating’s all about,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria,” hosted by anchor Maria Bartiromo. Trump criticized the idea of the virtual debate, saying, “You sit behind a computer and do a debate, that’s ridiculous.”
The debate format change comes after Trump, last week, tested positive for COVID-19 and spent three days hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Trump said he received a call about the change in debate format “two minutes” before his interview with Fox Business.
The CPD, on Thursday, issued a statement, announcing the change.
“In order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15, 2020, The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced the following today: The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the CPD statement read. “The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate.”
Since his release from Walter Reed on Monday, Trump has said he was ready for the debate, as planned in Miami, Florida.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!”
I am looking forward to the debate on the evening of Thursday, October 15th in Miami. It will be great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted, “A Wednesday update from President @realDonaldTrump’s physician,” which noted Trump had been fever-free for four days by that point and symptom-free for 24-hours.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 7, 2020
During his interview Thursday, Trump said the rules were changed to benefit Biden.
“They’re trying to protect Biden,” Trump said. “Everybody is.”
The Trump campaign also issued a statement criticizing the rule change.
“President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everybody knows it. 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,” said Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. “That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done. 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. 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.”