President Trump has flatly refused to take part in the second presidential debate after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday that the second forum would be a virtual debate.
The commission, which describes itself as non-partisan, said the October 15, 2020, debate format would be in a town meeting style and that the candidates would participate remotely and from separate locations. The commission said the reasoning behind the last-minute change was “to protect the health and safety of all involved.”
“The commission changed the debate style and that’s not acceptable to us,” President Trump told FOX Business Channel’s Maria Bartiromo.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” the President continued. “I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate.”
Calling the last-minute move “ridiculous,” President Trump declared, “They’re trying to protect Biden…Everybody is.”
— Maria Bartiromo (@MariaBartiromo) October 8, 2020
In response to the President’s decision, former Vice President Biden said, “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.”
There has already been some concern regarding the second debate. The debate moderator, Steve Scully of C-SPAN Networks, served as an intern for Biden in 1978. This past relationship presents a clear conflict of interest.
Additionally, there are legitimate concerns about a virtual platform in that it allows for a candidate to receive real-time assistance out of camera shot, allowing for a debate performance aided by not only group-think, but the assistance of internet access.
In commenting about the commission’s last-minute change of format and venue, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said, “We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”