NEW YORK, Oct 08 (APP): US President Donald Trump pulled out of next week’s debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden after the nonpartisan debate commission announced it will take place virtually because of the president’s bout with coronavirus, with his campaign announcing he’ll hold a public meeting that night instead.
“I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about,” Trump told Fox television network, moments after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the changes Thursday morning.
“You sit behind a computer and do a debate – it’s ridiculous and then they cut you off whenever they want,” Trump added.
The former vice president, nonetheless, said he would base his participation in the October 15 debate in Miami upon recommendations from medical experts.
In the middle of the night on Thursday, October 1, Trump announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and a day after was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, near Washington. However, he left the hospital on Monday and went back to the White House, where he is expected to continue his recovery.
Biden, a former vice president, says there should not be a second debate with President Trump if he is still infected with the coronavirus.
Landing at the White House by helicopter, Trump removed his face mask and declared he feels great.
Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said, however, “You are not out of it until you have gone several days out and [are] doing well.”
Trump had repeatedly disagreed with Fauci on COVID-19, including social-distancing guidelines and masks wearing, calling the doctor as “a little bit of an alarmist.”
Trump is now under criticism for endangering his staffer in the White House, where 14 officials have so far been diagnosed with the viral infection.
The next debate was set for Oct. 15 in Miami.
Trump lags in national polls and experts believe he would need more debates to change the trajectory, so it’s a potentially risky move. Within hours, he offered to delay the second and third debates by a week, a proposal the Biden team rejected.
Biden was willing to participate virtually if the debates are held on schedule, but refused to meet face to face if the president remains contagious. Trump’s insistence on debating only in-person, despite his diagnosis and a growing White House outbreak, puts in doubt whether there will be any further debates before Election Day.
Biden campaign’s deputy manager Kate Bedingfield said he will hold his own event that night to take questions from voters.
Trump’s incessant interruptions marred their debate in Cleveland last week.
Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien called a virtual debate a “nonstarter” and accused the bipartisan commission of a “pathetic” attempt to “rush to Joe Biden’s defence.”
Stepien tested positive for COVID-19 after the Cleveland debate, along with other top Trump aides.
Unlike Trump, who spent three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, none of those aides have been hospitalized. Trump received an aggressive course of steroids and an experimental antibody treatment that physicians say may be masking symptoms of an active infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can be contagious for up to 10 days, and should isolate for at least that long.
Five hours after the debate commission announced that Trump and Biden would “participate from separate remote locations” at the next debate ” to protect the health and safety of all involved,” the Trump campaign suggested delaying the next two debates by a week, so they would be held Oct. 22 and Oct. 29, just five days before Election Day.
“Donald Trump doesn’t make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does. We accepted the three dates — Sept. 29, Oct. 15, and Oct. 22 — in June,” Bedingfield said, noting that Oct. 22 is already the closest debate to an election in 40 years. “Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar.”