US President Donald Trump has refused to participate in a virtual television debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Earlier, the commission, which decided on the format of the debate in Miami on October 1
It made the decision after Mr Trump was treated for Covid-19. He has no current symptoms, but the White House is looking at a number of positive tests.
He said the move was too virtual to “protect” his rival. Mr Biden said Mr Trump was “changing his mind every second”.
- Pence and Harris encounter a coronavirus pandemic
- Debate Response and Analysis
The first presidential debate had led to insults and interruptions. The Vice Presidential Debate, which took place Wednesday night between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, was a far more measured affair.
The election will take place on November 3rd. Recent opinion polls give Mr Biden a high single-digit lead at the national level, but the outcome is often decided in battlefield states where the races can be much closer.
What did Trump say?
His comments during a phone interview with Fox Business Channel on Thursday touched on a number of key topics, including his health and the possibility of a move towards a stimulus package for the economy.
But it was his comments on the format of the debate that drew the most attention.
Mr Trump said, “I’m not going to waste my time on a personal debate. Sit behind a computer, ridiculous. You cut you off … I’m not doing a virtual debate.”
He also described the Miami debate moderator – cable and satellite TV broadcaster C-SPAN’s political editor Steve Scully – as “Never Trumper”.
A statement by Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who had also previously tested positive for Covid, said the commission’s decision to “rush to Joe Biden’s defense” was “pathetic” and that Mr Trump had “several negative tests before the debate ” released .
He said Mr Trump would hold a rally instead.
Speaking of his health, Mr. Trump said: “I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen.”
He said he had stopped taking most “therapeutics” but was still taking steroids and would be tested for Covid “soon” again.
Although his doctor has said he has no symptoms now, questions remain as to how long the president has been infected and whether he could still be contagious.
And while the names of many of the people who have interacted with the President and tested positive are now known, it remains unclear how many were exposed in the White House. There are new Covid security measures there.
Mr Trump said Thursday that “someone came in and people got infected” but did not provide any further details.
What did the Biden team say?
Mr Biden had previously been cautious at an event on the stage, saying he would attend as long as medical experts had given permission.
Following Mr Trump’s comments on the virtual debate, he said, “We don’t know what the president is going to do. He’s changing his mind every second. It would be irresponsible for me to comment now.”
“I think I’ll follow the recommendation of the commission. If he goes and holds a rally, I don’t know what I’m going to do. You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth.”
Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s communications director, said: “Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan to bring the country together and rebuild it better to Donald Trump’s failed leadership over the coronavirus that the damaged the strong economy he inherited. ” in the worst downturn since the Great Depression. “
What was behind the Debate Committee’s move?
The 90-minute presidential debate was to take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, with residents in the audience asking questions of the candidates.
However, the Presidential Debate Commission said Thursday that candidates would have to attend “from various remote locations.” The participants and the moderator would be in Miami.
The commission said the decision was made “to protect the health and safety of all concerned”.
Another debate is currently planned – October 22nd in Tennessee.
What about the economy?
The president had said Tuesday he would cut off talks with the Democrats over an overarching Covid stimulus package, but after a negative reaction in the stock markets he said he would try to settle individual deals instead.
He was more optimistic on Thursday, saying he saw “really good” opportunities to reach an agreement on a number of issues.
“We’re starting to have some very productive conversations,” he said.
The main advances were airline support and a stimulus check for workers of $ 1,200 (£ 930).
The Republicans under Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the Democrats under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have discussed regularly, but have differed in the amount of money they want to spend.
What happened in the VP debate?
The Wednesday night event in Utah was a civil debate between two smooth communicators compared to the martial showdown between Trump and Biden last week.
But there were intense exchanges.
Ms. Harris accused Mr. Pence and the President of deliberately misleading Americans about the deadliness of the coronavirus.
Mr Pence accused the Biden-Harris campaign of copying the White House’s pandemic strategy.
Mr Pence expressed his shock over the murder of African American George Floyd in Minnesota. But he added, “There is no excuse for the unrest and looting that follows.”
Ms. Harris said the president refused to condemn white supremacists.
BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher says it was memorable, with a few strong moments and a few stumbling blocks for both of them, but that in itself would be good news for the Democrats.
- Read Anthony’s full analysis