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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.

Go deeper

Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy

Alex Azar. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool via Getty

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a resignation letter delivered to President Trump this week that the "actions and rhetoric" after the election and especially during last week's siege on the Capitol "threaten to tarnish" the outgoing administration's legacy, Axios confirmed Friday.

Between the lines: Azar is leaving the same day President-elect Joe Biden takes office, so his resignation effectively changes nothing. But he joins a list of other top Trump aides and officials who have condemned the president after last week's deadly riot.

Updated Jan 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
Jan 16, 2021 - Health

CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic

Robert Redfield. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Outgoing CDC director Robert Redfield told NPR on Friday that he was proud of the agency's response to the coronavirus pandemic and that he disagreed with his incoming successor's conclusion that the "gold standard for the nation's public health — has been tarnished."

Why it matters: The CDC has faced sharp criticism throughout its nearly year-long response to the coronavirus pandemic over several issues, including some of its messaging and guidance, which has been described as inconsistent and confusing.