FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020. Olivier Douliery/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The Oct. 15 presidential debate in Miami, Florida will be a virtual town hall meeting, according to The Commission on Presidential Debates. The commission made the decision unilaterally, citing the need to “protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate.” President Donald Trump hospitalized on Oct. 2, 15 hours after his positive COVID-19 diagnosis, and was released from the hospital on Oct. 5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that those with severe cases, including hospital stays and needing oxygen, stay in isolation potentially up to 20 days after the appearance of symptoms.

President Donald Trump told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, “No, I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. The commission changed the debate style and that’s not acceptable to us.” He accused the commission of making the change to help Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Campaign manager Bill Stepien called the commission’s decision “pathetic” and added, “We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”

Biden’s campaign indicated its candidate would participate. Campaign spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said, “Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump’s failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression.” Biden told reporters it’s impossible to anticipate the president’s decisions.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Trump Pulls Out of Second Debate With Biden – The Daily Beast – 10/8/2020
The decision by Trump to bail is particularly ironic given that the president and his allies have spent weeks implying that it would be Biden—not Trump—who would physically wither at the thought of debating and back out of the event. It also comes as Trump simultaneously insists that he dominated Biden during the Tuesday night affair, despite countless public opinion polls showing the public felt the exact opposite.

Second Presidential Debate to Be Held Virtually; Trump Says He Won’t Participate – National Review – 10/8/2020
Trump and Biden faced off last week in a fiery first debate, and the second debate is currently scheduled for October 15. The decision comes after President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus last week. Shortly after the announcement, Trump told Fox Business he would not participate in a virtual debate with Biden.

Trump Bails On Next Debate After Commission Announces Virtual Format – Talking Points Memo – 10/8/2020
A Biden campaign aide told TPM that Trump abandoning the debate “shows that yet again, one candidate is leading while the other is whining.” “It’s no surprise since Trump has spent the last four years putting himself and his own political gain above the interests of the American people,” the aide said. “This is just the latest example of why these two candidates are the polar opposite from one another.”

‘Not Going To Waste My Time’ — Trump Announces He’ll Skip Second Debate After Commission Decides To Make It Virtual – Daily Caller – 10/8/2020
President Donald Trump said Thursday morning that he will skip the second 2020 presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden. The president’s comments came at the top of an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo — his first since contracting coronavirus in early October — and followed on the heels of the Commission on Presidential Debates’ decision to host the second debate in a virtual format.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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