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Trump camp proposes new date for second debate to accommodate virus concerns, Team Biden says no

Trump, Biden spend the day battling over debate schedules, formats.

Updated: October 8, 2020 - 4:20pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Joe Biden's campaign on Thursday announced that the Democratic presidential candidate will find "an appropriate place" to take questions directly from voters on Oct. 15 now that the president has rejected a plan to hold a virtual debate.

Trump, for his part, announced he would instead hold a campaign rally.

The clash came after the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) on Thursday morning issued this statement regarding the next presidential debate:

"In order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15, 2020, The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced the following today: The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations. The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate." 

President Trump quickly announced he would not participate in a virtual debate. "I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate," the president said on Fox News on Thursday morning. "It's not what debating is all about. ... It's ridiculous."

Team Biden then released a statement saying the candidate would "find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly."

"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," said Kate Bedingfield, Biden's deputy campaign manager. "As a result, Joe Biden will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks." 

The Trump campaign was left fuming over the CPD decision.

"This was a decision they made without consultation with our campaign, but it's in line with their history of doing everything they can to protect Joe Biden," said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

The Trump campaign then proposed delaying the Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 debates by one week each so the president — who, his doctor said Tuesday, no longer has symptoms of COVID-19 — would be sure to no longer be contagious.

A few hours later, Bill Stepien, Trump 2020 campaign manager, weighed in with this statement:

"The American people should not be deprived of the chance to see the two candidates for president debate face to face two more times just because the Commission on Presidential Debates wants to protect Joe Biden," Stepien said. "It remains extremely suspect that the CPD announced the brand new virtual format at 7:30 a.m. ET today immediately after Vice President Mike Pence had just wiped the floor with Senator Kamala Harris. Clearly the commission wanted to shift attention away from Pence's complete victory. As President Trump said, a virtual debate is a non-starter and would clearly be a gift to Biden because he would be relying on his teleprompter from his basement bunker. Voters should have the opportunity to directly question Biden's 47-year failed record of leadership. We agree that this should happen on October 22, and accordingly, the third debate should then be shifted back one week to October 29. The CPD and the media cannot hide Joe Biden forever. Americans deserve to hear directly from both presidential candidates on these dates, October 22 and 29."

The Biden campaign fired back, saying they agreed to the three debate dates and that Trump's "erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar and pick new dates of his choosing."

"We look forward to participating in the final debate, scheduled for October 22, which already is tied for the latest debate date in 40 years," Bedingfield said. "Donald Trump can show up, or he can decline again. That's his choice." 

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