“I am not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said on Fox Business. “I am not going to waste my time on a virtual debate.”
Trump’s comment throws into question the second debate after the commission took the significant step to wholly remake the contest between the two candidates. The move was seen as needed by members of the debate commission given the uncertainty around the President’s health.
Biden’s campaign on Thursday swiftly agreed to the virtual format.
“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the commission said in a statement about the debate, which is scheduled to be held on October 15 in a town hall format.
The commission went on to say that the debate moderator, Steve Scully, and the attendees who will ask Trump and Biden questions will appear from Miami, the original site of the debate.
The future of debates between Trump and Biden have been in question ever since the President’s positive diagnosis last week. It was reported on Monday that the commission was considering moving debates to a virtual format.
“The Commission, including me, is certainly open to virtual operations of the debates, without question,” said a commission member, who asked for anonymity to speak openly about forthcoming deliberations.
Thursday’s announcement by the commission came hours after Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris debated in person on Wednesday night, albeit separated by plexiglass.
Even before the vice presidential debate, however, members of the commission have been consumed by what to do about the upcoming presidential contests and said that whether the event happened in person or virtually centered on one thing: Trump’s well-being.
“It is all going to depend on the President’s health,” a commission member said before the vice presidential debate. “We have to plan like it is going to happen. … If he is quarantined in the White House, they have a way to bring him” live to the hall.
This story is breaking and will be updated.