Second Presidential Debate Canceled

October 9, 2020 Updated: October 9, 2020

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced late Friday that the second 2020 presidential debate that was scheduled for Oct. 15 “will not proceed.”

“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 commission announced.

“Both candidates have agreed to participate in the October 22 debate.”

The debate will be held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, subject to “health security considerations, and in accordance with all required testing, masking, social distancing and other protocols,” the CPD announced.

The debate will consist of six 15-minute segments, and Kristen Welker of NBC News will serve as the moderator for the debate. The topics for the six segments will be announced by Welker at least one week before the debate.

The news comes after a Thursday announcement by the CPD said that it was going to hold the debate virtually “to protect the health and safety of all involved.”

The CPD noted on Friday that “the campaigns of the two candidates who qualified for participation in the debate made a series of statements concerning their respective positions regarding their willingness to participate in a virtual debate on October 15, and each now has announced alternate plans for that date.”

Debate Trump Biden
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden exchange points during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Morry Gash/AP Photo, Pool)

President Donald Trump on Thursday asked for the second presidential debate to be postponed to Oct. 22 and said that he wouldn’t participate in a virtual debate.

“I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate,” the president told Fox News on “Mornings with Maria.” He added that he wasn’t going to “sit at a computer” to debate, calling the arrangement “ridiculous.”

“They’re trying to protect Biden,” Trump added. “Everybody is.”

After Trump’s refusal to attend a virtual debate, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he will participate in an ABC News town hall forum in Philadelphia on Oct. 15.

In response to the CPD’s cancellation of the second debate, Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh said on Thursday in a statement that there is “no medical reason” for the CPD to stop the debate from going as scheduled for Oct. 15, and that there is “also no reason there shouldn’t be the three total presidential debates as Joe Biden had originally agreed.”

“We have suggested using October 22 and October 29 to hold the final two debates,” Murtaugh said. “It’s time for the biased commission to stop protecting Biden and preventing voters from hearing from the two candidates for president,” he said.

“There’s nothing that says that President Trump and Joe Biden can’t debate together without the overlords at the commission having a say in the matter. We would be glad to debate one-on-one without the commission’s interference,” he added.

The CPD and the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Biden campaign said in public statements on Thursday that Biden was “prepared to accept” the CPD’s decision on the virtual Town Hall and accused Trump of evading the public’s scrutiny on is “failures on COVID and the economy.” The campaign also said it was “looking forward” to the final debate on Oct. 22.

Trump now has two upcoming in-person engagements—one White House event on Saturday, and an outdoor campaign rally in Florida on Monday. The Saturday event marks the first in-person event Trump will attend since he announced his COVID-diagnosis early on Oct. 2.

White House physician Dr. Sean P. Conley on Thursday gave the president the all clear to return to public engagements on the weekend. “I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagements” on Saturday, Conley said.

He added that Trump’s physical condition has “remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest progression of illness” since he returned home from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday.

Trump on the same day announced that he was feeling well after being treated for COVID-19 and that he was ready to resume campaign rallies.

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