Second Presidential Debate Cancelled by CPD
October 14, 2020
On October 9, the Commission on Presidential Debates cancelled the second debate between incumbent President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Joe Biden that was scheduled for Thursday, October 15. The Commission’s focus instead shifted to the final debate in Nashville on October 22.
The CPD’s decision comes in the wake of President Trump’s COVID diagnosis, which initially prompted them to transition to a virtual debate format. However, Trump criticized the idea, stating that he refused to participate in any sort of alternate debate setup. Instead, Trump planned a rally for October 15, and Democrat Joe Biden announced that he would hold his own town hall.
Since the cancellation, White House physician Sean Conley said that Trump is no longer a transmission risk, and White House deputy communications director Brian Morgenstern called for the debate to be rescheduled, stating that, “The President is ready to debate and his doctors have cleared him for participating in public engagements.”
However, Biden has made it clear that he will not debate in-person if Trump still has COVID.
“It’s a very serious problem, so I will be guided by the guidelines of the Cleveland Clinic and what the docs say is the right thing to do,” Biden said.
Despite claims to the contrary, there is precedent for remote presidential debates. On October 13, 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon debated over the radio from studios in New York and Los Angeles, respectively. Now, with services like Zoom and Skype, it would likely be easier than ever before to hold a virtual debate.
It’s unclear exactly why Trump refused the virtual format. Eric Trump, the President’s second son, stated that he didn’t want to participate in a “glorified conference call.” He said that the debate was cancelled because Biden didn’t want to debate the President in-person.
“Literally, my father wants nothing more than to debate Thursday,” he added.
The third and final presidential debate will take place in Nashville on October 22. Election Day is November 3.