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Trump vows not to participate in virtual debate with Biden

President Donald Trump says he won't participate in next week’s debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden if it's virtual.

Posted: Oct 8, 2020 6:41 AM
Updated: Oct 8, 2020 8:29 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump vowed Thursday not to participate in next week's debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden after organizers announced it will take place virtually because of the president's diagnosis of COVID-19.

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate," Trump told Fox Business News, moments after the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced the changes.

The shakeup comes a week before Trump and Biden were set to square off for the second presidential debate in Miami. Biden's campaign insisted its candidate was ready to move forward, but the future of the event is now in serious doubt.

The Commission on Presidential Debates made the decision unilaterally, citing the need "to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate.”

When Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris squared off for their only vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night, they shared a stage but were separated by plexiglass to prevent the spread of the virus.

Trump's campaign said the president would do a rally instead of the debate.

“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,” Bill Stepien, Trump campaign manager said in a statement. “The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head. We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”

Trump was hospitalized for three days but is now back at the White House recovering. He has vowed to return to the campaign trail soon. Still, the commission's move is yet another indication that the presidential election is being dominated by the virus — defying the president's monthslong attempts to underplay it and declare that the country was ready to move on.

Trump is thought to be trailing in key battleground states. Even before his COVID-19 diagnosis, he was widely criticized for his chaotic performance during last week's first presidential debate in Cleveland. Next week's debate, and a third one set for the following week in Nashville, would have been a chance for him to attempt to reset the election and potentially change its trajectory.

Biden aides argued that Trump's pulling out could be a boon to their candidate. Given reactions to the chaotic first debate, they believe most voters, especially undecided voters, will see the president as avoiding a second debate out of his own interests, not because he dislikes the format.

“Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people," deputy Biden campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

Biden said earlier in the week that he was “looking forward to being able to debate him” but added “we’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines.” He said he and Trump “shouldn’t have a debate” as long as the president remains COVID positive.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced early Thursday the candidates would “participate from separate remote locations” while the participants and moderator remain in Miami, it said. Moments later, Trump vowed to skip the event entirely.

Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus a week ago, but in a Tuesday tweet said he looked forward to debating Biden a second time, “It will be great!” he tweeted.

He fell ill with the virus last Thursday, just 48 hours after debating Biden in person for the first time in Cleveland. While the two candidates remained a dozen feet apart during the debate, Trump's infection sparked health concerns for Biden and sent him to undergo multiple COVID-19 tests before returning to the campaign trail.

Trump was still contagious with the virus when he was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday but his doctors have not provided any detailed update on his status. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can be contagious for as many as — and should isolate for at least — 10 days.

It's not the first debate in which the candidates are not in the same room. In 1960, the third presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy was broadcast with the two candidates on opposite coasts.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 282916

Reported Deaths: 3359
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin605241095
Ramsey25467477
Anoka20172216
Dakota19573179
Washington12799108
Stearns1254793
Scott764754
St. Louis763197
Wright683036
Olmsted616033
Sherburne522339
Clay449655
Carver420912
Blue Earth379511
Rice377732
Kandiyohi365915
Crow Wing324131
Nobles298029
Chisago28838
Otter Tail273315
Benton269340
Winona251828
Mower239723
Polk230621
Douglas228929
Morrison215321
Lyon200011
McLeod19289
Beltrami190415
Goodhue180926
Becker178810
Steele17296
Itasca170524
Isanti170216
Todd167412
Carlton161310
Nicollet148223
Freeborn14195
Mille Lacs136530
Le Sueur135010
Waseca131811
Cass12368
Pine12216
Brown121110
Meeker11187
Roseau10143
Martin100620
Hubbard100022
Wabasha9351
Redwood82718
Dodge7980
Chippewa7907
Watonwan7884
Cottonwood7431
Renville73118
Sibley7224
Wadena7166
Aitkin69224
Rock6779
Pipestone67318
Houston6242
Fillmore6150
Yellow Medicine58211
Pennington5576
Murray5433
Kanabec54112
Swift5266
Pope4910
Faribault4901
Stevens4552
Clearwater4456
Marshall4377
Jackson4291
Lake3654
Unassigned35856
Koochiching3475
Wilkin3305
Lac qui Parle3213
Lincoln3171
Norman3166
Big Stone2801
Mahnomen2554
Grant2396
Red Lake1973
Kittson1876
Traverse1340
Lake of the Woods891
Cook600

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 216579

Reported Deaths: 2240
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk32244325
Linn13583162
Scott1055981
Black Hawk10541131
Woodbury9984116
Johnson920835
Dubuque886590
Story656619
Dallas611456
Pottawattamie589167
Sioux356425
Webster345831
Marshall339244
Cerro Gordo332342
Clinton312337
Buena Vista293514
Muscatine273968
Des Moines270616
Warren264810
Plymouth261938
Wapello244071
Jones225313
Jasper208440
Marion196719
Carroll192621
Lee191716
Bremer187212
Henry17257
Crawford170715
Benton162716
Tama149440
Jackson138511
Delaware137221
Washington135813
Boone130711
Dickinson128510
Mahaska123427
Wright11835
Buchanan11249
Clay10964
Hardin109310
Page10854
Hamilton10477
Clayton10455
Harrison102428
Calhoun10237
Cedar102213
Fayette10008
Mills9977
Floyd98614
Lyon9858
Kossuth9675
Poweshiek95512
Butler9375
Winneshiek91510
Iowa89611
Winnebago88023
Louisa82316
Hancock8217
Grundy81711
Sac8077
Chickasaw8014
Cherokee7814
Cass77221
Appanoose7509
Shelby7346
Allamakee73211
Guthrie72415
Humboldt7205
Mitchell7204
Union7166
Emmet71424
Franklin68820
Madison6614
Jefferson6441
Palo Alto6114
Unassigned5961
Keokuk5537
Pocahontas5442
Howard5089
Greene5070
Osceola5031
Clarke4644
Ida45510
Davis4415
Taylor4352
Montgomery43410
Monroe43112
Adair4218
Monona4032
Fremont3483
Van Buren3434
Worth3410
Lucas3166
Decatur3070
Wayne2896
Audubon2841
Ringgold1902
Adams1551
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