The Reason Donald Trump Is Skipping The Next Debate

With the second presidential debate just around the corner, the event organizer, Commission on Presidential Debates, thought now would be time to announce a change in the format, and they announced that the second debate scheduled for October 15 would be virtual, thanks to concerns over COVID-19.

While representatives of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have said they would be happy to go along with the change, which is being carried out for "health and safety of all involved," President Donald Trump didn't seem as receptive, and he used an interview with Fox Business to let them know what he thought (via The New York Times). "I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that's not what debating is all about," he said. "You sit behind a computer and do a debate — it's ridiculous." His concern? That the moderator could cut him off at any time (via NBC). Biden has reacted to Trump's threat by saying (via Twitter): "We don't know what the president's going to do. He changes his mind every second."

The commission may have cause for concern — after all, seven out of nine members of Trump's debate team have tested positive for COVID-19, including the president himself. Bill Stepien, who also tested positive, told NBC, "For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden's defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic. We'll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead." 

Debate organizers are following CDC guidelines

The Commission's concerns are based on CDC guidelines, which say people should isolate for 10 days after symptoms first emerge in mild cases, and 20 days in severe cases. Biden already said he was happy to go along with the debates as long as they were cleared by healthcare professionals. The former vice president had already said that if Trump is contagious, the second debate shouldn't go ahead as planned. 

"I don't know what exactly the rules are going to be and I'm not sure that what President Trump is all about now — I don't know what his status is. I'm looking forward to being able to debate him, but I just hope all the protocols are followed which is necessary at the time," Biden had told reporters.

In a release, the Commission on Presidential Debates outlined what now looks like a controversial decision, saying, "The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations. The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida."

This shouldn't come as a surprise, since many had wondered whether the debates would happen after Trump tested positive for COVID-19 last week. But with the fluid nature of this year's presidential campaigns, who knows what is likely to happen next.