US President Donald Trump announced on October 8 that he would not participate in a virtual presidential debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
The announcement came after the Commission on Presidential Debates stated that the second presidential debate would be held virtually as President Trump recovered from COVID-19.
No virtual debates
President Trump was interviewed on Fox Business, and he said that he wouldn't participate in their planned virtual debate as he does not want to "waste his time."
Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Joe Biden's campaign released a statement on October 8, agreeing to the proposed plan of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The move was deemed necessary by the members of the debate commission after President Trump tweeted that he tested positive for COVID-19, and there is a lingering uncertainty around his health, according to The Washington Post.
President Trump can skip the debate per the rules of the commission, but he will not have a chance to outline his plans if reelected, and he can't use the platform to encourage his supporters to vote.
According to political analysts, President Trump needs to grab on any platform that he can because he is falling behind on the national poll.
The head of the debate commission, Frank Fahrenkopf, told CNN that the members of the commission told both the Republicans and the Democrats about their plans right after they announced that they would go virtual. The Cleveland Clinic, the health advisers of the commission, supports their decision.
President Trump stated during his interview with Fox Business that he did not want to "sit behind a computer" during a virtual debate and that there is a high chance that the moderator can cut him off "whenever they want."
Not the first time
Virtual debates are not unheard of, as the third debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960 happened with both candidates in different locations.
President Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, accused the commission of "unilaterally canceling an in-person debate" after it announced about its plans of going virtual.
Stepien said that the commission is helping Biden and that the President decided to hold a rally instead of going to a second debate.
Meanwhile, the commission gave more details about their plan. The moderator will be Steve Scully, and the attendees who will ask the candidates questions will appear live from Miami, which is where the second date will be held.
Fahrenkopf stated that President Trump has the right not to attend the second debate. He said that there is no law requiring a candidate to participate in a presidential debate.
Fahrenkopf cited an example that happened in 1980 when former President Jimmy Carter refused to attend the first debate, but he did participate in the second round.
After the diagnosis of President Trump, many are asking about the future of the presidential debates, as there are supposed to be two more rounds before the election on November 3.
The announcement about a virtual debate came hours after Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamal Harris debated in person, but they were separated by plexiglass and were six feet away from each other.