The Commission on Presidential Debates announced yesterday that the 2nd presidential debate (scheduled for October 15th) will be held virtually; due to the President being hospitalized last Friday after testing positive for COVID-19. The president immediately responded that he will not participate in the second presidential debate with Joe Biden.
"I am not going to do a virtual debate," Trump told Fox Business on Thursday. "I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate." Trump complained that a virtual debate would mean "sitting behind a computer and the moderator could cut me off whenever they want."
Frank Fahrenkopf, head of the debate commission, spoke with both campaigns ahead of the announcement. “We did not consult them," he said, explaining that their decision to restructure the debate was informed and strongly advised by the Cleveland Clinic.
A virtual debate is not unprecedented. Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy pioneered the televised debate in 1960, but their third contest occurred with both candidates in different locations.
Bill Stepien, Trump's campaign manager, said there is no law requiring a presidential candidate to debate and that Donald Trump — 8 days after being hospitalized for the coronavirus — will hold a rally instead. “I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night in Florida,” Trump said, “Then come back and do one in Pennsylvania on the following night.”
Trump ends coronavirus relief talks on Capitol Hill
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is ending negotiations with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders over a new economic aid package to respond to the coronavirus until after Nov. 3, a momentous decision that will impact millions of Americans affected by the pandemic and could conceivably sway the outcome of the election.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
Facing pushback from lawmakers and stakeholder industries, Trump hours later reversed course and tweeted he was ready to sign stand-alone bills. “If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Democrats have pressed for $2.2 trillion in new emergency spending, designed to address the health and economic fallout as the number of coronavirus cases are rising and the economic recovery of the summer is showing signs of slowing down.
Trump and Republicans have rejected that figure as far too high, citing deficit concerns, and Mnuchin countered with a $1.6 trillion proposal, which Democrats maintain is insufficient.