After nearly two days of will-they-won’t-they, the Commission on Presidential Debates scrapped the Oct. 15 presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“On October 8, CPD announced that for the health and safety of all involved, the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15 in Miami, would be conducted virtually,” the CPD said in a statement on Friday. “Subsequently, the campaigns of the two candidates who qualified for participation in the debate made a series of statements concerning their respective positions regarding their willingness to participate in a virtual debate on October 15, and each now has announced alternate plans for that date.”
“It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22,” the statement continued.
The event already appeared to go off the rails on Thursday morning when the commission said it would make the event virtual for safety reasons in light of Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis, resulting in a rather convoluted chain of events: Shortly after the CPD’s announcement, Trump said he didn’t want to “waste” his “time” on a virtual debate during a phone interview on Fox Business; the Biden campaign then suggested the debate commission delay the second debate to Oct. 22, but the Trump campaign countered that the president would only participate if it were in-person — and if the debate commission tacked on another matchup on Oct. 29.
The back-and-forth continued throughout the day, with the Biden campaign later moving forward with scheduling a separate town hall with ABC News on Oct. 15 to essentially replace the second debate. But later that same evening, the Trump campaign tried to pressure the debate commission to move forward with the in-person debate on Oct. 15 after Trump’s physician released a memo saying he anticipated the president would be “safe” to “return to public engagements” by this Saturday, despite the president testing positive just a week ago.
The debate commission declined to do so on Thursday night, leaving the second debate up in the air until the commission declared the event canceled on Friday evening.