This comes after President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus just days after the first debate, which was held in-person.

A collage of United States President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden
news US Elections 2020 Thursday, October 08, 2020 - 18:22

The second debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will be held virtually, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Thursday. However, while Biden has agreed to the new debate format, Trump’s campaign has stated that he will not take part in it.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement that they will “pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead,” after declaring that Trump had won the first debate. He also stated that Trump would have “posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate,” though in reality, it’s unclear how Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis will progress by that point.  Biden’s campaign manager Kate Bedingfield reportedly said in a statement that “Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people.” 

The Commission’s decision comes after Trump and First Lady Melania tested positive for coronavirus just days after the first debate between the two was held in-person. Trump and Biden had been scheduled to debate in-person in Miami on October 15. However, the debate will now be moved online and candidates and the moderator will be prepared, according to reports. The moderator for the debate will be Steven Scully of C-SPAN, who will be in Miami during the debate.   

The Commission noted in a statement that the candidates will participate in the debate in separate locations and it will be in the form of a “town meeting.” It noted that this was due to the “health and safety of all involved.”

On Wednesday, the vice-presidential debate took place between Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence at Salt Lake City, Utah. After the president and several White House officials tested positive for coronavirus last week, additional safety precautions were put in place, such as the installation of plexiglass screens between them and added distance between the two candidates. 

The first debate between Trump and Biden was marked with potshots, interruptions and insults flying between the two men. Biden, at one point told the president to “shut up” when he was being repeatedly interrupted. Biden, 77, has repeatedly tested negative for the virus since last week, though several close Trump aides, including White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tested positive. 

According to the New York Times, this is not the first time a remote debate has occurred. In 1960, Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy debated remotely, with Nixon in Los Angeles and Kennedy in a television studio in New York. 

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