News ID: 275343
Published: 0346 GMT October 10, 2020

Second US presidential debate officially canceled after Trump balked

Second US presidential debate officially canceled after Trump balked
OLIVIER DOULIERY/REUTERS
US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, US, on September 29, 2020.

The planned October 15 debate between US President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden was officially canceled on Friday a day after Trump rejected a decision by the nonpartisan commission organizing it to change its format to a virtual event to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

The debate, originally scheduled as a town hall-style encounter in Miami, was intended to be the second of three presidential debates, Reuters reported. 

The final one is planned for October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee. After Trump refused to take part in the October 15 debate, Biden scheduled a televised town hall-style event for himself that evening.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said in an emailed statement: “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.”

Trump announced last Friday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and spent three days hospitalized receiving treatment before being released on Monday. The Republican president, seeking reelection on November 3, on Thursday, called the format change in which he and Biden were to participate from remote locations “ridiculous” and said it would be a waste of his time to take part.

Trump’s campaign on Friday accused the commission, headed by a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, “biased” toward Biden.

“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 campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

The commission said both candidates have agreed to participate in the October 22 debate and would be subject to required coronavirus testing, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols.

“It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions – but it’s no surprise,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said.

Trump constantly interrupted and talked over both Biden and the moderator in the chaotic first debate.

Questions remain about whether Trump is still contagious. The White House has declined to say when Trump last tested negative for the virus. But Trump, eager to get back on the campaign trail despite his bout with COVID-19, is set to hold a rally in Florida on Monday.

This comes as new cases of COVID-19 in the US hit a two-month high on Friday with over 58,000 infections of the new coronavirus reported and hospitalizations in the Midwest at record levels for a fifth day in a row, according to a Reuters analysis.

Ten of the 50 states reported record one-day rises in cases on Friday, including the Midwestern states of Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio. Wisconsin and Illinois recorded over 3,000 new cases for a second day in a row – a two-day trend not seen even during the height of the previous outbreak in the spring, according to Reuters data.

The Western states of Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming also reported their biggest one-day jumps in cases, as did Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Nineteen states have seen record increases in new cases so far in October.

Trump and his administration have faced criticism for their handling of the pandemic that has claimed over 213,000 lives in the country, as well as for a lax approach to mask-wearing and social distancing in the White House.

There is no federal mandate to wear a mask, and 17 states do not require them, according to a Reuters analysis.

In addition to rising cases, hospitals in several states are straining to handle an influx of patients.

 

 

   
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Resource: Reuters
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