Trump says no to virtual debate meant to ‘protect Biden’
President Donald Trump rejected the idea of a virtual debate with Democrat nominee Joe Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced unilaterally that the next debate would be held virtually to “protect the health and safety of all involved.”
“I’m not going to waste my time doing a virtual debate,” Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, according to USA Today.
Trump said the plan from the Commission was to “protect Biden,” and called it a “joke.”
The plan was to host townhall participants in Miami — with the debate moderator — and have Trump and Biden answer from remote locations.
Former House Speaker and presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich (R), blasted the Commission, saying that the decision to change the debate was dictatorial.
“How can the Debate Commission (which I think should be abolished as arbitrary, irresponsible and unrepresentative) arbitrarily change the third debate without the approval of the two campaigns. This is petty dictatorship worthy of Gov Cuomo. Who do they think they are?” tweeted Gingrich.
Gingrich added later that he thought the decision was taken to remove the spotlight from the poor performance of Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris (D) in debating Vice President Mike Pence last night.
The Trump campaign agreed with Gingrich’s assessment.
“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 according to Yahoo News. “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.”
The Biden campaign has resisted the notion of debating Trump again, citing Trump’s recent COVID diagnosis.
“I think if he still has COVID, we shouldn’t have a debate,” said Biden.
But the Trump campaign has assured Biden that the President will have multiple negative tests before the debate and maintain social distancing during the debate to keep the risk of infection to zero.
“President Trump will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate, so there is no need for this unilateral declaration,” Stepien said.
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said that Trump should simply bypass the Commission and announce a debate moderator and a city and invite Biden to join him.
“The president should announce he will go to a stage in the designated city on the date, name a moderator, and invite Joe Biden to join him and to name a moderator, and simply bypass the #NeverTrump Debate Commission. It can be done safely. It should be done for the country,” said Hewitt.
The Commission has also been heavily criticized in their choice of moderators, who, so far, look anything but neutral during the debates.
PHOTO: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
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