WASHINGTON. – US President Donald Trump has refused to participate in next week’s debate with Joe Biden after it was announced the event would be held virtually due to the president’s coronavirus diagnosis.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) had said in a statement: “In order to protect the health and safety of all, the second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations.”
Shortly afterwards, Trump appeared in a phone interview on Fox Business, saying: “I heard that the commission a little while ago changed the debate style. That’s not acceptable to us. I’m not going to do a virtual debate. I’m not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate, that’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do it, debates? Ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Trump appeared to claim that the CPD had made the announcement without first informing his campaign.
An official statement from the Trump campaign said: “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 defence by unilaterally cancelling an in-person debate is pathetic. That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done.”
The statement went on to claim that Trump would test negative for Covid-19 ahead of the event, and that they would plan to hold a rally instead of taking part.
According to the CPD’s plan, the audience and the moderator, C-Span’s Steve Scully, would still be located in the Adrienne Arsht Centre for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, as planned. The televised debate is scheduled for 15 October.
The revised format would have removed any issues around how distant the two candidates should be from each other, or whether screens should be put up between them. This became a source of contention before the Mike Pence and Kamala Harris vice-presidential debate on Wednesday night. Eventually their teams agreed to the debate going ahead with them both seated and at least 12 feet from each other, with screens between them. – The Guardian