Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has opted out of the October 15 presidential debate, citing his adversary, Donald Trump’s, decision to do the same, TMZ reported. Instead, Biden is planning an event during which he can take questions directly from voters. It remains unclear how he intends to do that.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, on Thursday the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that a town hall-style debate scheduled for next week would be held virtually, rather than in-person, following the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis. However, Trump told Fox Business that he wasn’t interested.
“I am not going to do a virtual debate. I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” he said.
Trump is planning to hold a rally that day, according to his campaign manager Bill Stepien, who accused the committee of “unilaterally canceling” the in-person debate.
Not long after Trump’s comments, Biden’s team announced that the former V.P. would also skip the contest.
“Joe Biden was prepared to accept the CPD’s proposal for a virtual town hall, but the president has refused, as Donald Trump clearly does not want to face questions from the voters about his failures on COVID and the economy,” read a statement from Biden campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield.
Bedingfield’s statement went on to request that the CPD reschedule the October 15 debate to October 22, “so that the President is not able to evade accountability.”
“The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly,” she continued, noting that every major-party candidate since 1992 has participated in a debate where the format includes voters talking to them directly about their concerns.
As for Biden’s plan to come up with an alternative means of taking questions directly from voters, his campaign manager noted that he would be looking for “an appropriate place” to do that.
Meanwhile, what would have been the third debate of this year’s election cycle remains on the schedule for October 22, scheduled to take place at Belmont University in Nashville, with Kristen Welker of NBC News as the moderator. It remains unclear if that event will take place, be moved to another date, or canceled altogether.
Trump’s campaign is interested in having three debates. As The New York Times reported, Stepien expressed agreement with the idea of moving the town hall to October 22 and moving the third debate to a week later on October 29.
The Biden team, however, balked at the idea of a third contest at the end of the month. Following Stepien’s announcement, Bedingfield said in a statement that the Democrats campaign agreed to the first schedule back in June, and that the president does not get to rewrite the calendar.