The Commission on Presidential Debates on Friday canceled the second debate between President Trump and Joe Biden after the President declined to do a virtual debate.
The cancellation is the culmination of a 48-hour back-and-forth between the commission and both campaigns and means what would have been the third debate in Nashville on October 22 will likely be the final meeting between the two candidates. The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the commission’s decision.
“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 said in a statement.
The commission, with the backing of their health advisers, announced on Thursday morning that — because the President tested positive for coronavirus — the debate that was scheduled for Miami would be held virtually, with the two candidates appearing from remote locations. President Trump swiftly rejected that plan, saying he would not show up and setting off a series of events that put the future of all general election debates into question.
In response to President Trump’s cancellation, a Biden spokeswoman said they would book another format for the former vice president to take questions. Later in the day, ABC News announced they would be hosting a town hall with the former vice president.
“Vice President Biden looks forward to making his case to the American people about how to overcome this pandemic, restore American leadership and our alliances in the world, and bring the American people together,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Friday in a statement. “It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions — but it’s no surprise.”
The Trump campaign issued a proposal to continue the in-person debate, but Biden’s campaign rejected their proposal.
The Trump campaign has said that because the President’s physician, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, has cleared him for travel, the commission should move the debate to an in-person setting.
The President is now in talks to do a town hall with NBC on Thursday in lieu of the debate, according to a person familiar with the plans, but things have not been finalized yet.
If that event comes to fruition, both candidates would be participating in town halls in separate events instead of the debate.
“There is no medical reason to stop the October 15 debate in Miami from proceeding as scheduled, since the President will be healthy and ready to debate,” Trump’s campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, said in a statement on Friday. “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. It’s time for the biased commission to stop protecting Biden and preventing voters from hearing from the two candidates for president.”
He added that the President would be willing to debate Biden without the commission’s involvement.
The first debate between Trump and Biden was looked at as a chaotic affair watched by more than 73 million people.
Negotiations between the campaigns and the commission earlier on Friday did nothing to change the fact that the likelihood of a Miami debate was low.