President Donald Trump has today given his clearest indications yet that he will not take part in next week’s first ever virtual debate, arguing that it is a waste of time.
This development happened only an hour after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the next presidential debate will be a virtual event as a way of protecting the health and safety of all involved.
President Trump, who is still recovering from COVID-19, said he refuses to participate.
“I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” the president said in a phone interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo.
The debate will take place Oct. 15 in a town hall format as previously planned, but each candidate will participate remotely, the debate commission said.
All the debate participants and the debate moderator will attend in person at the debate venue in Miami.
Days after last week’s debate in Cleveland, Trump tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized for three days.
Since his diagnosis, dozens of people in his orbit have also tested positive, including White House officials, campaign aides and associates who helped in his debate preparations.
On Friday, hours after Trump announced he had tested positive, Biden said he tested negative for COVID-19. He has since tested negative several more times, according to his campaign.
Meanwhile, Trump and his team have flouted coronavirus health guidelines, like wearing face masks. Members of Trump’s family refused a doctor’s admonition to keep their masks on in the debate audience in Cleveland.
Wednesday night’s vice presidential debate was held in person with a plexiglass barrier between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Kamala Harris. Audience members were required to wear masks.
However, at the end of the debate, Pence’s wife Karen appeared on stage without one, ignoring guidelines both campaigns had agreed to observe.
The latest to test positive for coronavirus at the White House include Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, her two deputies Chad Gilmartin and Karoline Leavitt and advisors advisors Stephen Miller, Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway.