The second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is officially off.
The debate, scheduled for next Thursday, Oct. 15, has been cancelled, the Commission on Presidential Debates confirmed in a statement on Friday: “It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22.”
The CPD had planned to move to a virtual format for the second debate “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved,” following President Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis last week. But Trump refused to participate in a virtual debate, calling the idea “ridiculous” and insisting that the debate take place in person. Biden, the Democratic nominee, was willing to participate in the virtual format, but after Trump declined, he decided to hold a town hall by himself instead, which will air on ABC next Thursday. (Trump is reportedly looking to host his own town hall on a rival network the same night.)
The Biden campaign said in a statement: “Joe Biden was prepared to accept the [Commission on Presidential Debates’] proposal for a virtual Town Hall, but the president has refused, as Donald Trump clearly does not want to face questions from the voters about his failures from the voters about his failures on COVID and the economy… Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing.”
As of now, the third presidential debate is still scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 22. The vice presidential candidates — Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris — did debate in person this past Wednesday night, with extra safety measures put in place, including a pair of Plexiglass dividers and 12 feet of distance between the candidates, but Pence has so far tested negative for the coronavirus.