Trump to Skip Second Debate After Change of Format

President Trump on Thursday indicated he would not participate in the next presidential debate, scheduled for October 15, after the format was changed Fox News reported.  The second presidential debate was to be held in Miami and follow a town hall format.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said in an announcement on Thursday that “the second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations.” The debate’s host, Steve Scully from C-SPAN, would moderate in Miami with a group of voters in attendance.

Trump said that he was not interested in participating in the altered format.  “The commission changed the debate style and that’s not acceptable to us,” Trump said. “I beat him in the first debate, I beat him easily.”

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said about the changed format. “I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate.”

The president denounced the virtual debate concept as “ridiculous,” saying that he wasn’t going to “sit at a computer” in a remote location.

Trump suggested an ulterior motive from the debate commission.  “They’re trying to protect Biden,” Trump said. “Everybody is.”  Democratic nominee Joe Biden has spent most of the general election campaigning from his Delaware home, only recently emerging to attend events in person.

The CPD’s decision came the day after the lone vice-presidential debate between VP Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).  During that debate, the candidates were spaced 12 feet apart and were both behind plexiglass barriers.

No official explanation was given by the CPD for the change to a virtual format, although it was presumably done due to the president’s positive COVID-19 result last week.  President Trump spent last weekend getting treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center and returned to the White House on Monday afternoon.  

Bill Stepien, Trump campaign manager, accused the CPD of coming to Biden’s “defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate.”  He continued, “That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done. Here are the facts: President Trump will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate, so there is no need for this unilateral declaration. The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head.  We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”

According to NPR’s Mara Liasson, ever since his positive COVID test Trump’s agenda is clear.  “He’s sending a very clear message since he came out of the hospital that he wants to get back to normal. He was working in the Oval Office yesterday,” she said.  “And the president clearly wants to send a message that everything is back to normal. And if you do a virtual debate, that says very loud and clear that things are not back to normal.”

Liasson’s analysis fits with the president’s attitude throughout the coronavirus pandemic.  He was against the massive shutdown of the economy encouraged by mostly Democratic governors across the country and has sought to reopen the nation and get the economy back on track for months.

For now, it appears that the two campaigns are going to hold dueling, but separate, events next Thursday, although plans may change before then.  The third and final presidential debate is scheduled for October 22nd in Nashville.

One thought on “Trump to Skip Second Debate After Change of Format

  1. This will be an interesting move for Trump, but I’m not sure if it will be a positive for him. He famously skipped one of the Republican debates in the 2016 primary, which seemed to bolster him image of being an outsider to the establishment. However, will people see things the same way now that he is the sitting president? If anything, this move stands as a sign of weakness, almost like Trump is admitting that he cannot perform so he’ll just not show up. I find it somewhat humorous that Trump is arguing this is an attempt to “defend Biden,” like defending the his health is somehow a negative. I know this isn’t exactly what Trump means by this statement, yet the irony is so strong: Trump is angry that, unlike his entire administration, the debate wants to protect the candidates health. The Mara Liasson comment, however, is an extremely good way of describing Trump’s gameplan with this move. Not only does Trump paint virtue campaigning as lesser, but it is also goes against his argument that everything is fine. To me at least, this is a very bad move for Trump. Sure, his base can defend anything he does/says as a display of strength, but what about the families and friends of the more than 210,000 thousand people who have died to the virus? Will they really buy that this is some conspiracy to “defend” Biden, or will they see through the facade to how Trump has thoroughly politicized covid to a staggering degree. Either way, people are really going to need to speak their minds by casting a vote. At least Americans can cast a vote safely, being able to mail their votes and not forced to wait in lines for multiple hours. If anyone still does not know their vote-by-mail status, please find out! I’ve found this tool which makes it very easy to check https://my.voteplus10.org/t/r9tGPKAxGaKzE7damHie?

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