By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday morning that the second debate between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump will be virtual.
However, shortly after the change was announced, Trump said he would refuse to participate in an interview with Fox Business.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said Thursday morning. ” … “No, I’m not going to waste my time with a virtual debate.”
The Biden campaign said Thursday morning that the former vice president will participate in the virtual event.
“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,” the campaign said in a statement to ABC News Thursday.
Later Thursday morning, Biden himself weighed in on Trump saying he wouldn’t participate, before heading on a campaign trip to Arizona.
“The president — we don’t know what the president is going to do — he changes his mind every second,” he told reporters after a lengthy pause. “For me to comment on that now would be irresponsible. I think that — I’m going to follow the commission’s recommendation. If he goes off and he’s going to have a rally, I — I don’t know what I’ll do,” Biden said.
Asked by ABC News if he would still participate in the debate if Trump did not, Biden said he didn’t know.
“It depends on — we don’t know enough to know right now. My inclination — I’ll talk to you about this later. I don’t know. I’m just hearing the same thing you’re hearing as we’re going. You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth,” he said.
Instead of attending the debate, the Trump campaign said it will hold a rally.
“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 campaign said in a statement Thursday morning.
Biden’s camp said once again this move proves Trump cares not for the safety of others but only himself, an aide told ABC News.
The scheduled town hall format will remain for the Oct. 15 debate, but CPD said “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved,” the candidates would participate remotely from separate locations.
Questioners will still be with moderator Steve Scully at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, as previously planned.
Trump told Fox he was not made aware of the changes before they were announced.
The safety of the next debate came into question after Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnoses last week, which required the president to be hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center. Trump returned to the White House on Monday.
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