On the heels of President Donald Trump testing positive for COVID-19, The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) decided to change the debate originally scheduled for October 15, to be a virtual instead of an in-person event. This new format would allow both candidates to participate from different locations, along with audience members and Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks.
This comes as at least 22 individuals in the President's circle have tested positive for COVID-19, and the White House has refused to answer basic questions about the date and time of the President's last negative test. This was an effort on the CPD's part to help protect those around the President from possible exposure, as there is no concrete evidence that he is no longer contagious.
The CPD "rejected efforts by President Donald Trump’s campaign to clear him for in-person participation in next week’s town hall-style forum — noting that the White House still has refused to provide basic information about Trump’s recent coronavirus tests." Yet, even though it is well within the White House's ability to assuage the CPD's fears and provide adequate information to ensure the safety of others, the President has instead decided to skip the debate altogether.
“No I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” he said on October 8th in an interview with Fox News. Claiming that this move by the CPD was a "sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden," and that he would "do a rally instead." The President then suggested moving the date to accomodate his quarantine period, but the Biden campaign refused.
According to Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager: "Donald Trump doesn't make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does... Trump's erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing."
It is unclear why the White House refuses to answer basic questions regarding the President's health and why the President seems intent on endangering those around him by refusing to adhere to medical protocols. One thing is for certain, given the fact that over 213,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, the presidential debates need to be handled with the utmost care and concern for all involved, despite the President's own unsubstantiated health diagnosis.
Learn more here: Trump refuses to participate in virtual debate on Oct. 15: ‘I’m not going to waste my time’, here: Debate commission co-chair: ‘No evidence’ Trump is clear of Covid, here: CPD Announces Second Presidential Debate Will Be Virtual, and here: Biden campaign rejects Trump proposal to move debate dates.