Trump rejects plan for virtual debate with Biden

Trump rejects plan for virtual debate with Biden

Minutes after the debate commission announced plans for a virtual debate with Joe Biden to address issues related to the Coronavirus, President Donald Trump on Thursday morning flatly rejected the idea of participating in a ‘virtual’ debate next week in Miami.

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” the President told Fox Business in his first live interview since he was hospitalized last week for the virus.

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I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that’s not what debating’s about," Mr. Trump added.

The Commission on Presidential Debates had decided to move to a virtual debate - with the candidates at remote locations - to insure safety on the Coronavirus.

The format of the second debate more easily allows for that, since it is a town hall - where the voters ask most of the questions.

But that wasn’t acceptable for the Trump Campaign.

“The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head,” said the President’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, who has also been hit by the virus.

“We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead,” Stepien said in a statement.

That move is reminiscent of one in the 2016 GOP primary, when the President boycotted the final debate before the Iowa Caucus, and held his own rally in Des Moines at the same time.

Earlier this week, Biden had told reporters he wanted the debate to go forward - but not if the President was still contagious, or testing positive for the virus.

“I don’t think I’m contagious at all,” the President said in his Thursday morning interview.

The immediate reaction from the debate panel was more of a shrug of the shoulders than anything else.

“No Presidential Candidate is required to debate,” said Frank Farenhkopf, a veteran GOP official and head of the Commission on Presidential Debates. “Jimmy Carter refused to debate during the first debate in 1980. It is up to the individual candidate.”