Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien called for the Oct. 15 town hall-style debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden to be delayed to Oct. 22, after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the matchup would be held virtually.
Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield suggested the Biden camp doesn’t support postponing the second debate, saying the former vice president “[looks] forward to participating in the final debate, scheduled for October 22, which already is tied for the latest debate date in 40 years.”
Trump said early on Oct. 8 that he won’t attend the virtual event, describing it as a waste of time.
Stepien, in a statement to news outlets at about noon on Oct. 8, said Americans “should not be deprived of the chance to see the two candidates for president face to face two more times just because the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) wants to protect Joe Biden.”
He said the change to the debate format is suspicious after Vice President Mike Pence “just wiped the floor” with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in their Oct. 7 debate.
Biden, Stepien claimed, would be “relying on his teleprompter from his basement” during the virtual debate.
“We agree that this should happen on October 22, and accordingly, the third debate should then be shifted back one week to October 29,” he said.
Earlier, the CPD said the debate would take the form of a town meeting in which the candidates will take part remotely from separate locations because it would “protect the health and safety of all involved.”
It came after Trump last week tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for several days.
Trump told Fox News later that he wouldn’t attend.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump continued. “I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate,” adding that he wasn’t going to “sit at a computer” to debate, calling it “ridiculous.”
“They’re trying to protect Biden,” Trump said. “Everybody is.”
Bedingfield, the campaign manager, said earlier that Biden was preparing to accept the virtual town hall proposal.
“As a result, Joe Biden will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th,” the campaign said, adding that Trump doesn’t want to face questions on his administration’s pandemic response effort.
Days earlier, on Oct. 6, Biden told reporters that the debate should be canceled if Trump still has COVID-19.
“Well, I think if he still has COVID, we shouldn’t have a debate,” Biden told reporters. “I think we’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines. Too many people have been infected and it’s a very serious problem.”
The White House physician said in a memo on Oct. 7 that Trump was free of symptoms for 24 hours and that his blood tests show the presence of antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name for the CCP virus, meaning that his immune system is fighting off the infection.
“Of note today, the president’s labs demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies from labs drawn Monday, Oct. 5; initial IgG levels drawn late Thursday night were undetectable,” Dr. Sean P. Conley wrote.