The Commission on Presidential Debates announced a major change to the second presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15: it will take place virtually.
“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” a statement said.
The moderator, Steve Scully of C-SPAN, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida, along with participants.
“The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate,” the statement concluded.
The Second Presidential Debate will be VIRTUAL, @debates says ! pic.twitter.com/W3ZXKVLEbO— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) October 8, 2020
The news comes after President Trump’s diagnosis with COVID-19. He came back to the White House on Monday after spending several days receiving treatment at the Walter Reed Medical Center. And on Wednesday, he returned to the Oval Office.
White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said Wednesday the president had been fever-free for more than four days and showed no symptoms of the virus for “over 24 hours.”
A Wednesday update from President @realDonaldTrump’s physician: pic.twitter.com/IEn3Clv9yg— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 7, 2020
Trump said he felt getting the virus was "a blessing from God."
"This was a blessing in disguise. I caught it, I heard about this drug. I said 'Let me take it' — it was my suggestion, I said 'Let me take it.' And it was incredible the way it worked. Incredible," Trump said in a video message."
"I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president because I feel great, I feel, like, perfect," he said.
His treatment included Remdesivir as well as a single dose of Regeneron's antibody cocktail.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT! pic.twitter.com/uhLIcknAjT— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
UPDATE: Speaking with Fox News's Maria Bartiromo on Thursday shortly after the announcement, President Trump said he will not do a virtual debate.
President Trump @realDonaldTrump tells @MariaBartiromo “I’m not going to waste my time in a virtual debate.” POTUS says no to next debate.— Dagen McDowell (@dagenmcdowell) October 8, 2020
UPDATE II: Instead of debating, the Trump campaign announced they will hold a rally instead.
Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, said Trump “will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate" so there is no reason to hold it virtually.
“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," Stepien said. "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.”
UPDATE III: Biden responded, saying, "We don't know what the president is going to do, he changes his mind every second so for me to comment on that now would be irresponsible."
He continued: I'm going to follow the commission recommendations."
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