Second US Biden-Trump debate cancelled amid safety controversy

Monday, October 12, 2020

The United States Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Friday the second presidential debate between US President Donald Trump and former US Vice President Joe Biden, which was slated for October 15, has been cancelled, citing COVID-19 safety concerns.

In an official statement, the commission said, "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 [...] 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".

President Trump tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, within just days after traveling to Cleveland, Ohio to participate in the first presidential debate against Democratic rival Joe Biden. The debate safety-recluations controversy followed. Prior to the cancellation announcement, there was discussion the second debate could be held virtually in light of President Trump's recent COVID-19 diagnosis. The president called the notion a "waste of time". With the president's evident disinclination to a virtual debate, Biden scheduled a town hall in Pennsylvania for the day the debate was to be held.

The second debate was intended to be done in town-hall format. The Biden campaign criticized Trump's refusal to debate virtually, accusing the president of "not want[ing] to face questions from the voters about his failures on COVID and the economy."

According to organizers, the final debate is still scheduled for October 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and is to involve testing, mask requirements and social distancing. The debate is to be moderated by NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker.