US President Donald Trump says he will not participate in a virtual TV debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Earlier on Thursday, the Commission on Presidential Debates said the event scheduled for October 15th will be held virtually in the wake of the President’s positive coronavirus diagnosis. The commission said the debate would be “conducted from remote locations”, with participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, asking questions from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. According to the commission, the decision was made “to protect the health and safety of all involved.”
Speaking to Fox Business, Trump called the move “unacceptable” and a ploy to protect Joe Biden.
“I’m not gonna waste my time on a personal debate,” Trump said. “Sit behind a computer, ridiculous. They cut you off… I’m not doing a virtual debate.”
The Biden campaign, however, welcomed the move to go virtual.
“Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump’s failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” said deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield.
The news came a day after the vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, with a plexiglass barrier between them. They clashed repeatedly over the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
President Trump had previously said he looked forward to debating Biden on stage, and on Monday, Biden said he would share a stage with his rival Trump as long as medical experts gave the go-ahead.