The second presidential debate between US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden has been cancelled. The announcement by the Commission on Presidential Debates came as the president announced his first in-person events since being diagnosed with Covid-19.
“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 Trump campaign responded to the commission’s decision to cancel the next debate by saying the president “will be healthy and ready to debate” on October 15 and the planned town hall event should still go forward in-person. Trump has refused to participate in a virtual event, while Biden advocated for it for safety reasons.
“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,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
“We would be glad to debate one-on-one without the commission’s interference,” Murtaugh added.
The final debate on October 22 is still set to take place.
Meanwhile, President Trump will resume in-person campaigning on Saturday after being sidelined by COVID-19. Trump will address a crowd of supporters- expected to be in the hundreds- from a White House balcony. He will then travel on Monday to central Florida, a state crucial to his hopes of winning a second term. There, he will stage his first campaign rally since his coronavirus diagnosis at an airport in the town of Sanford.
In his first television interview since going to the hospital last weekend, President Trump said he has been re-tested for the coronavirus and feels “very strong.”
“I feel really good. I feel very strong. I know a lot of people who have had the COVID, or the China virus as I call it because came from China, but I feel really, really strong and a lot of people don’t feel that way sometimes for a while afterwards, but very good,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.
He added that he was “medication free” and is “either at the bottom of the scale or free” of the virus.
Trump, who has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic, trails Biden in opinion polls with just weeks to go before the election.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said the president is eager to resume campaigning but would do so safely. “He wants to talk to the American people, and he wants to be out there,” she said.