Updated Oct 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden balks at Trumpless town hall debate

President Trump and Biden at the debate

Photo by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images; Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

After President Trump announced he would not participate in a virtual debate next week, Joe Biden's campaign released a statement Thursday that the former vice president would instead "find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly."

The state of play: The Commission on Presidential Debates announced the town hall would be entirely virtual "for the health and safety of all involved" as Trump continues to recover from coronavirus.

What they're saying: "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 other side: The status of Trump's health largely remains unclear, and the president's doctors have not indicated whether he is still testing positive for coronavirus.

  • Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who also tested positive for coronavirus, said in a statement that the campaign will "pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead."
  • Stepien also claimed without evidence that Trump "will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate," which has never been publicly confirmed by the president's doctors.
  • Trump's campaign later suggested moving the debates to Oct. 22 and Oct. 29. The Biden campaign swiftly rejected that proposal, saying "Trump's erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing."

What's next: The Biden campaign instead suggested using the next scheduled debate date of Oct. 22 to host a town hall-style event.

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