Washington: President Donald Trump vowed Thursday not to participate in next week’s debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Donald Trump took the decision after organisers announced that it will take place virtually. They had no option as the president has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate with Biden,” Trump told ‘Fox News’. It came moments after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the changes due to Trump’s diagnosis. That cast serious doubts on whether the event will go forward. However, Biden’s campaign vowed he will participate.
“Vice-President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people,” Biden campaign deputy manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
It is more evidence that the race remains defined by the virus, even as Trump has attempted to underplay it.
Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus a week ago. However, he said in tweet Tuesday that said he looked forward to debating Biden on stage in Miami. “It will be great!” he tweeted.
Biden, for his part, said he and Trump ‘shouldn’t have a debate’ as long as the president remains COVID-19 positive. He told reporters in Pennsylvania that he was ‘looking forward to being able to debate him.’ However he added: “We’re going to have to follow very strict guidelines.”
Trump fell ill with the virus last Thursday, just 48 hours after debating Biden in person for the first time in Cleveland. The two candidates remained a dozen feet apart during the debate. However, Trump’s infection sparked health concerns for Biden and sent him to undergo multiple COVID-19 tests before returning to the campaign trail.
Trump was still contagious with the virus when he was discharged Monday from Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre. His doctors have not provided any detailed update on his status.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can be contagious for 10 days.
It’s not the first debate in which the candidates are not in the same room. In 1960, the third presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy was broadcast with the two candidates on opposite coasts.