President Donald Trump says he will not participate in the presidential debate originally scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, allowing Democratic nominee Joe Biden to take part in an ABC News town hall event in Philadelphia that evening.
Trump rejected the change to a virtual format announced Thursday morning by the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates, which explained that the format was necessary because of the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.
Asked about the virtual format on Fox Business, Trump said, “I'm not going to waste my time in a virtual debate. That's not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate is ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Virtual debate OK with Biden
The Biden campaign had said the former vice president would be willing to participate in a virtual debate.
In a statement, the Biden campaign said, “we hope the Debate Commission will move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22 so that the president is not able to evade accountability.”
The Trump campaign issued a statement agreeing that the next debate should take place Oct. 22, with the third and final debate on Oct. 29. The Biden campaign has rejected having a debate so late in the campaign.
Confined to White House
Trump has been recovering from COVID-19 and has been confined to the White House since returning from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday.
The president’s physician, Dr. Scott Conley, issued a statement Thursday evening saying the president had completed his course of therapy for COVID-19 and responded well. He shows no signs of the illness progressing, and Conley anticipates Trump’s safe return to public events on Saturday.
Earlier, Alyssa Farah, communications director at the White House, was asked when the president last tested negative for the coronavirus.
"I can't reveal that at this time. Doctors would like to keep it private," she said.
'I think I'm better ... '
Meanwhile, Trump said he is doing well and is ready to hold campaign rallies.
“I think I’m better to the point where I’d love to do a rally tonight,” he said.
Trump’s doctors have not said if he is ready to hold rallies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 should be isolated for at least 10 days. Trump’s positive COVID-19 test was revealed late last week.