On Thursday, President Trump stated he would not participate in the debate next week with the Democratic nominee Joe Biden. This statement came after the debate organizers announced that candidates would appear virtually, stating the president's COVID-19 diagnosis played a significant role in the decision.
Just moments after the Commission on Presidental Debates announced the next debate's format and stated that it was due to Trump's diagnosis, Trump spoke with Fox News, saying: “I’m not going to do a virtual debate.”
After having made this statement, Trump has cast doubt on the fact as to whether the event will not happen. As for Camp Biden, they have said that their candidate would be willing to participate.
Deputy campaign manager for Biden, Kate Bedingfield said: "Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people." The idea of a virtual debate provides further evidence that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to define this year's presidential race.
In the announcement issued by the Commission on Presidential Debates, they cited their decision as: "to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate." As such, the individual candidates will participate in the debate separated from different remote locations. The moderator of the debate will remain in the predetermined Miami location.
This decision to change the debate's format came one short week before Vice President Biden and President Trump were due to square off in Miami. After being diagnosed and treated for the novel coronavirus last week, in a tweet on Tuesday, the President expressed his eagerness to join Biden on stage in Miami for the second debate. He tweeted: "It will be great!"
On the other hand, Biden spoke out that he didn't think that the debate should go on. He and the President "shouldn't have a debate," adding that as long as the President remains COVID positive, canceling the debate would be the most prudent move. That was until the announcement of the alternative idea--that of a virtual debate.
When speaking with reporters in Pennsylvania, Biden said he was "looking forward to being able to debate him [the president], but added that "we're going to have to follow a set of strict guidelines."
According to the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those who present with either mild to moderate symptoms of the novel coronavirus can remain contagious for up to—and are suggested to isolate—for at least ten days.
Is the idea of a virtual debate better than just canceling the second debate altogether?