President Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo Thursday morning that he not going to “waste his time” in participating in the upcoming second presidential debate now that it is set to become a virtual event.
“I’m not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate that’s not what debating is all about,” Trump said in a nearly one-hour phone interview. “You sit behind a computer and do it debates ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Trump said he wasn’t informed by the Commission on Presidential Debates that they decided to change the debate format.
“They didn’t even tell us about the debate Maria,” Trump said. “We learned it the same way you learned it. They called up two minutes ago and it was announced and they’re trying to protect Biden.”
Prior to Trump interview, the commission released a statement that the second presidential debate in Miami between the president and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will “take the form of a town meeting, with the candidates participating from separate, remote locations.”
The change in format was made “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate,” following the president positive diagnosis. However, the second showdown was set to occur on October 15, making it more than 14 days since Trump first revealed his diagnosis on October 1.
“The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate,” the commission said.
Debate Commission statement apparently didn’t include that either Trump or Biden campaigns were informed or if either had agreed to the changes which happened to coincidentally happened just less than 12 hours after the Vice-Presidential debate was conducted.
However, according to two members of the Debate Commission, the group consisting of three co-chairs and 10 board members met on Wednesday to discuss the changes and voted unanimously to make the changes.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien slammed the debate organizer as “swamp creatures” for their unilateral decision by rushing “to bail out” Biden.
“President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everybody knows it,” Stepien said. “For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic. That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done.”
Stephen added, “Here are the facts: President Trump will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate, so there is no need for this unilateral declaration. The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head. We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”
The Biden campaign also issued a statement shortly after Trump interview and said that the former vice president is looking forward to participating.
“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,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
Frank Fahrenkopf, head of the debate commission defended the organization changes by noting after Trump announced that he is with his full rights to decline to debate.
“There is no law requiring any presidential candidate to debate. In fact, in 1980, Jimmy Carter, president of the United States, refused to participate in the first debate, but he did participate in the second debate,” Fahrenkopf said. “So it is up to every candidate to decide whether they want to debate or not.”