Second Presidential Debate Between Donald Trump, Joe Biden Canceled Amid COVID-19 Concerns

The Commission on Presidential Debates canceled the second debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden scheduled for Thursday in Miami. The commission initially changed the debate to a virtual one, but Trump refused to do so. The third debate in Nashville is still scheduled for Oct. 22.

"It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22," the commission said in a statement late Friday. "Subject to health security considerations, and in accordance with all required testing, masking, social distancing, and other protocols, the debate will take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee." The Oct. 22 debate will be moderated by NBC News journalist Kristen Welker. The second debate was planned for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, with C-SPAN's Steve Scully as the moderator.

The decision came down a day after the commission decided to make the second debate virtual after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. Moments after that announcement was made, Trump told Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo he would not "waste my time" on a virtual debate and called it "ridiculous." Biden's campaign then searched for a different way for the former vice president to take questions from voters, so they booked a town hall event with ABC News on Thursday.

After that, Trump's campaign proposed moving the second debate to Oct. 22 and scheduling the third debate to Oct. 29, days before the Nov. 3 election. Biden's campaign rejected that proposal. "Trump chose today to pull out of the October 15th debate," Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said, adding that Trump's "erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing."

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Once the commission's decision was announced, Variety reported that NBC News was among the outlets considering broadcasting a town hall-style event with Trump on the same night as Biden's event with ABC News. There is no finalized agreement, sources said, and the deal would hinge on Trump's team agreeing to follow health and safety protocols. It is possible that the events could air at different times on Thursday night, as ABC News has not scheduled start time for the Biden event.

Trump was treated for the coronavirus last weekend at Walter Reed Medical Center and returned to the White House on Monday. He is planning to speak to a crowd from the White House balcony Saturday afternoon. The president also scheduled a rally in Florida on Oct. 12.