Donald Trump says he won't participate in the second presidential debate with Joe Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced Thursday morning that the two candidates would appear remotely for a virtual debate. The decision came a week after Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and days after he was discharged from the hospital amid his treatment.
"I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. It's not what debating is all about," Trump told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo Thursday morning. "It's ridiculous." The debate, which is scheduled to take place on Oct. 15, is set to be held in a town hall format with participants based in Miami, Florida, but Biden and Trump in "separate remote locations," according to the Commission.
The Biden campaign signaled in a statement that the former vice president would take part in a virtual event and "looks forward to speaking directly to the American people." Asked about the safety of the debate after Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis, Biden told reporters on Tuesday, "I think if he still has COVID, we shouldn't have a debate." Before the non-partisan Committee changed gears to make the debate remote, Trump repeatedly expressed the desire to debate Biden in Miami as scheduled.
Trump tested positive for COVID-19 last week just days after sharing a stage with Biden during the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, other top White House staff and Republican allies have also tested positive over the past week. Amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19, plexiglass was installed between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris at Wednesday night's debate. They were also placed more than 12 feet apart, doubling the CDC social distancing recommendation of 6 feet.
Following last week's highly chaotic presidential debate, the CPD announced it would be instituting "additional structure" to the remaining debates after the candidates repeatedly broke agreed-upon rules by speaking out of turn and talking over each other. "Last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," the commission said in a Sept. 30 statement. "The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly."