Second Trump-Biden debate will be virtual, organizers say

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President Trump, in his first interview since his positive coronavirus test, told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo on Thursday that he will not participate in the next debate, just minutes after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the showdown, slated for Oct. 15, will be virtual.

The debate, scheduled for Oct. 15, "will take the form of a town meeting," CPD organizers said. The announcement came less than a week after the president tested positive for COVID-19.

But, in his Fox Business interview, the president said he would not take part in a virtual debate.

"The commission changed the debate style and that's not acceptable to us," Trump said on "Mornings with Maria." "I beat him in the first debate, I beat him easily."

The president added that he expected to "beat him in the second debate also."

"I'm not going to do a virtual debate," Trump went on. "I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate."

The president said he wasn't going to "sit at a computer" to debate, calling it "ridiculous."

"They're trying to protect Biden," Trump said. "Everybody is."

The Biden campaign seemingly accepted the rules change early Thursday, with deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield saying: "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."

Trump's announcement of his positive COVID-19 test had thrown the status of all future 2020 debates in doubt. The debate between Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris went on as planned Wednesday night with on-stage dividers between the candidates after both had tested negative for the coronavirus.

Steve Scully of C-SPAN is still set to moderate the second presidential debate from Miami.

Trump was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, after his medical team said he could continue his coronavirus treatment from the White House. He had his reelection campaign at the forefront of his mind, tweeting shortly before departing that he would soon be back on the campaign trail, while blasting polls that show him trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!! The Fake News only shows the Fake Polls,” Trump tweeted before being discharged from Walter Reed Monday.

Meanwhile, shortly after the president returned to the White House, where he continued to be treated for COVID-19, his campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said the president planned to take part in the debates.

"The president intends to debate," Murtaugh told Fox News Monday.

Symone Sanders, a senior campaign adviser to Biden, said on Sunday that the former vice president was “looking forward” to the Oct. 15 town hall-style debate in Miami and that he hoped Trump would be well enough to attend.

"We are looking forward to the debate on Oct. 15 in Miami," Sanders said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union" on Sunday. "It’s a town hall and, as you know, Vice President Biden loves a good town hall.”

Sanders added: “And we are hoping President Trump can participate. We're hoping that he's medically able to participate, and that is up to his doctors to clear him. But Joe Biden will be at that debate."

The presidential debate schedule was thrown in jeopardy after the president revealed in the early morning hours last Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump had contracted the coronavirus. Since Trump’s announcement, numerous members of his White House inner circle and his reelection campaign have come down with the contagion.

Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien also tested positive for COVID-19 and is working remotely. White House press secretary McEnany announced Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19, in addition to other White House staff who have tested positive including senior adviser Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller and director of Oval Office operations Nick Luna.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said that the president has been “fever-free” for four days and has not had any symptoms of the novel coronavirus for “over 24 hours.”

“The President this morning says ‘I feel great!’,” Conley wrote in a memo to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “His physical exam and vital signs, including oxygen saturation and respiratory rate, all remain stable and in normal range.”

Conley added that the president has “now been fever-free for more than 4 days, symptom-free for over 24 hours, and has not needed nor received any supplemental oxygen since initial hospitalization.”

“Of note today, the President’s labs demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies from labs drawn Monday, October 5th; initial IgG levels drawn late Thursday night were undetectable,” Conley continued, adding that the president’s medical team will “continue to closely monitor” and will provide updates as necessary.

Fox News' Griff Jenkins and Pat Ward contributed to this report.

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