On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced he is refusing to participate in an Oct. 15 debate – planned as a town hall-style conversation – with Democratic rival Joe Biden after it was changed to a virtual event to guard against the spread of COVID-19. The announcement prompted Biden to book a solo televised town hall-style event instead.
The President criticized the format change announced by the nonpartisan The Commission on Presidential Debates and expressed concern that his microphone could be cut off. “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about,” Trump said in a nearly hour-long phone interview with Fox Business. “You sit behind a computer and do a debate – it’s ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want.”
The Biden and Trump campaigns had proposed pushing back the debate until Oct. 22, the date of what was scheduled as their final and 3rd face-off before the Nov. 3 election. Trump’s campaign also proposed holding another debate on Oct. 29, which Biden’s campaign rejected.
Biden’s campaign quickly arranged a town hall-style event in Philadelphia on Oct. 15 to be hosted by ABC News in lieu of the debate. After Trump said he would not take part, the Biden campaign issued a statement saying the commission should move the town-hall format debate to Oct. 22 to give voters a chance to question the candidates. Trump’s campaign then issued a statement agreeing to push the encounter to Oct. 22, proposed a third debate a week later. However a Biden aide said the Oct. 22 debate should be the final one.
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