(Update 2120ET): Despite President Trump's doctor confirming that he will be healthy and virus-free enough to go back to "public engagements" by Saturday, AP reports that the Debate Commission will not change its decision to hold the debate "virtually". Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs reports that
“The chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates says it is not reconsidering shifting the second debate from virtual back to in-person, despite a request from President Donald Trump’s team.”
What is most confusing for us 'lay-people' who don't understand the 'science' - why does the Oct 15th debate need to be virtual if the 'science' according the president's doctor, confirms he will be fit and healthy by Saturday (Oct 10th)?
Trump 2020 campaign senior adviser Steve Cortes accused the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) of playing "pandemic politics" Thursday
"The Commission on Presidential Debates has revealed itself as a corrupt and complicit swamp cabal," Cortes told "Special Report" host Bret Baier.
"They are trying to put their thumb on the scale in favor of Joe Biden. They are trying to protect him and, in fact, bail him out."
Joe - listen to the doctors!?
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(Update 1500ET): Now that the Biden and Trump campaigns have apparently agreed to delay the second debate by a week to Oct. 22, ABC News just announced that Biden will hold a town hall event with ABC News, which will be moderated by George Stephanopoulos.
ABC says they'll hold a town hall with Biden the night of Oct. 15, the same day the debate had originally been scheduled pic.twitter.com/ubgx7QdLWl— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) October 8, 2020
The town hall will be held in Philadelphia, and follow all safety regulations and guidelines.
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(Update 1225ET): Like Larry Kudlow said earlier, the timing and circumstances of the second presidential debate has now become a negotiation. And after Trump said he'd rather walk away than do a virtual event, it looks like Biden called his bluff, and now the Trump camp has apparently acquiesced to potentially rescheduling the debate from Oct. 15 to Oct. 22 (while moving the third debate to Oct. 29).
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Update (1140ET): Joe Biden's campaign just released a statement saying he would find "an appropriate place" to take questions directly from voters on Oct. 15 instead of debating Trump. The campaign also added that it hoped the debate commission would agree to moving the debate to Oct. 22 to give President Trump more time to recover from the virus.
New stmt from @JoeBiden campaign: “Joe Biden will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th...Given the President's refusal to participate on October 15th, we hope the Debate Commission will move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22nd.” pic.twitter.com/oFOcKU4qG9— Moeko Nitohbe (@mokochita) October 8, 2020
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Update (0805ET): Well that didn't take long - as we suspected - President Trump said on Foxthat the decision to change the format for the next presidential debate to virtual "is not acceptable to us," adding that "I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that's not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate, it's ridiculous.”
"I'm not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate," Trump announces on Fox Business pic.twitter.com/OgHGlJ53wb— Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) October 8, 2020
Trump has decided to hold a rally instead..."We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead."
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According to a statement released minutes ago by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the second presidential debate, set for Oct. 15, will be held remotely, taking the form of a town hall meeting with both candidates participating remotely.'
Moderator Steve Scully will still be located at the Miami venue where the debate was supposed to take place, but instead, both candidates will participate remotely, while the participants in the audience and the moderator ask questions from the main location.
"In order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15, 2020, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced the following today: 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, Fla. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate."
Yesterday, Joe Biden opined that there shouldn't be a second debate if Trump still has COVID-19.
Of course, the remote format could create serious problems for Trump, who was able to wrest control of the first debate thanks to his pugnacious approach, which included frequent interruptions and jabs lobbed at Biden. Afterwards, the Commission promised to change up the format and give moderators new "tools" to help manage the flow of conversation.
The remote format will allow Scully, who once interned in Joe Biden's Senate office, unprecedented control over the debate. if Trump is being piped in remotely, the moderator can simply mute the president's feed to prevent him from talking out of turn. At any rate, expect the next debate to be a much more staid affair than the "sh*tshow" - as CNN described it - that tool place last time.
Fortunately for Mike Pence, the one and only VP debate vs. "gaffe machine" Kamala Harris is already over.
The decision comes after Trump's team said earlier this week that he intended to participate in person during the next debate (the 2nd of three). The decision was made to "protect the safety of all involved" now that a White House COVID-19 outbreak has sickened dozens, including Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.
Meanwhile, Trump is set to appear on Fox Business Network at 0800ET for his first TV interview since the announcement on Friday.