The United States Commission on Presidential Debates on Friday said it has cancelled the October 15 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden following the former refused to take part in a virtual format, reported AFP.
“Each [candidate] now has announced alternate plans for that date,” the commission said in a statement. With the cancellation, only debate is left, which will be held on October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Since 1976, debates have been an important feature for the presidential polls in the country and three debates have been a standard since 2000.
On Thursday, the commission had said that it will be holding a virtual debate on October 15 in view of Trump testing positive for the coronavirus. However, the president, who wishes to return to the campaign trail and hold love events, refused to participate on the virtual format, wanting to be part of the town hall debate in person. “I’m not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate,” Trump said. “You sit behind a computer and you do the debate, it is ridiculous, and then they cut you off anytime they want.”
Democratic nominee Biden had said earlier in the week that he would not participate in the debate if Trump had not recovered from the infection. Biden’s campaign attacked Trump for his refusal to join the debate, according to Reuters. “It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions – but it’s no surprise,” Biden spokesperson Andrew Bates said.
Further, Trump’s campaign accused the commission, led by a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, “biased” toward Biden. “There is no medical reason to stop the October 15 debate in Miami from proceeding as scheduled, since the President will be healthy and ready to debate,” Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said.
Both sides have, however, agreed to take part in the October 22 debate, which would be subject to testing of the coronavirus and maintaining physical distancing protocols.
Meanwhile, Trump plans to hold his first live event at the White House after testing positive for the infection. Attendees would have to wear a mask and get screened for the virus beforehand.
The first debate focussed on a number of key topics, including the Covid-19 crisis, climate change, the US economy and Trump’s tax returns but it was chaotic. At several moments over the course of the debate, the moderator had to yell over the US president and request that he stop interrupting. On one of these occasions, in fact, Trump interrupted the moderator just as he was asking the president to stop interrupting.
The United States has so far reported 76,59,932 Covid-19 cases, according to John Hopkins Univeristy. Its toll stood at 2,13,588.