President Trump will hold a rally next week instead of participate in a virtual debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden, according to Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien.
The Trump campaign sent out a statement on Thursday slamming the Commission on Presidential Debates for changing the format of the second presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15. The commission said that the debate would be held virtually, the first ever in the history of presidential debates.
“President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everybody knows it,” Stepien said in a statement. “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. 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,” he continued. “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 hold a rally instead.”
The commission announced the change on Thursday morning after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus last week. Trump spent the weekend being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before returning to quarantine at the White House on Monday evening.
“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the commission said in a statement. “The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate.”
Trump reacted to the news during a live interview on Fox Business with host Maria Bartiromo moments after the commission’s statement was released. Trump said he would not take part in a virtual debate.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said. “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate is ridiculous.”
Trump added that the commission did not clear the new format with his campaign before the commission announced the changed setting.
“They didn’t even tell us about the debate, Maria,” Trump said. “We learned it the same way you learned it. They called up two minutes ago and it was announced. They’re trying to protect Biden. Everybody is.”
The commission’s Thursday announcement is the second time since the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 that the commission has intervened to change the rules of the contests. The first intervention came the morning after the first presidential debate with the commission promising “additional structure” to future debates. The first debate was dominated by both Trump and Biden interrupting each other and the moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.
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