The commission, with the support of their health advisors, announced Thursday morning that – since Trump tested positive for the coronavirus – the debate planned for Miami would take place virtually, with the two candidates appearing from remote locations. Trump was quick to reject this plan, saying it would not show up and spark a series of events that would call into question the future of all general election debates.
In response to Trump̵
“Vice President Biden looks forward to explaining to the American people how to overcome this pandemic, restore American leadership and our alliances in the world, and bring the American people together,” said Andrew Bates, spokesman for the Biden campaign, on Friday in an explanation. “It’s shameful that Donald Trump had the only debate in which voters can ask the questions – but it’s no surprise.”
In response to its candidate pulling out of the debate, the Trump campaign issued three statements on Thursday slamming the commission, urging the Biden campaign to agree to a face-to-face debate, and saying it was ready to take the Push back the October 15th debate a week to October 22nd and then the third debate on October 29th, a few days before the November 3rd election.
But Biden’s campaign turned down her proposal, and campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield replied, “Donald Trump is not making the debate plan; the Debate Commission is doing this.”
The Trump campaign has argued that the President’s Doctor, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, cleared him for the trip, the commission should move the debate into a personal setting.
“There is therefore no medical reason why the Presidential Debate Commission should move, postpone or otherwise change the debate in a virtual environment,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement.
Trump is currently in talks to build a town hall with NBC in lieu of the debate on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the plans, but that source warns things are not over yet.
If this event comes to fruition, both candidates would attend separate events in the town halls rather than the debate which was planned in the style of a town hall.
The cancellation is a political loss for Trump, who is inferior in all national polls and is either behind Biden or is affiliated with Biden in major swing states. Losing a debate robs the president of a platform he needs at a time when his campaign is wearing off. The first Trump-Biden debate, a messy affair, was watched by more than 73 million people.
The reality for the commission, however, is that with Trump stepping down and Biden’s approval of an ABC town hall, a second debate between the candidates was unlikely after several sources familiar with the negotiations.
And Commissioner Frank Fahrenkopf told CNN on Thursday evening that the Trump campaign’s urge to have a personal debate in Miami next week after the president had already stepped down from the competition detracted little from the commission’s conviction about the president’s debate over a debate Changed in the next week must be virtual.
“The Cleveland Clinic should sort it out,” said Fahrenkopf. He added that this will not affect the Biden campaign again, which the commission chief believes was unlikely after talking to the best Biden aides.
“They moved on and will do this thing with ABC,” added Fahrenkopf. “It doesn’t look good if the Biden campaign doesn’t change its mind.”
Negotiations between the campaigns and the commission on Friday did nothing to change the low likelihood of a debate in Miami.
“It’s fair to say that it looks like Miami will be canceled,” a source familiar with today’s negotiations told CNN. “I don’t think there is any movement on either side that Miami is making possible.”
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.