Next presidential debate canceled, third debate still planned

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This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden squaring off during the first presidential debate at the Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020.
(Photos by JIM WATSON and SAUL LOEB / AFP)

MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — The second presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden is officially off.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates confirmed Friday that the Oct. 15 faceoff would be scrapped.

The chair of the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates previously said it would not reconsider shifting the second debate from virtual back to in-person, despite a request from President Donald Trump’s team.

Under that plan, candidates were expected to “participate from separate remote locations,” while the participants and moderator remain in Miami, the commission said, given the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

President Trump fell ill with the virus last Thursday, just 48 hours after debating Biden in person in Cleveland. While the two candidates remained a dozen feet apart during the debate, Trump’s infection sparked health concerns for Biden and sent him to undergo multiple COVID-19 tests before returning to the campaign trail.

President Trump was still contagious with the virus when he was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday. 

After the announcement, President Trump’s campaign released a statement calling on CPD to push the second debate to Oct. 22 and Oct. 29.

“There is no medical reason to stop the October 15 debate in Miami from proceeding as scheduled, since the President will be healthy and ready to debate,” Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.

NewsNation hasn’t received a statement from the Biden campaign, but will update this story when we do.

Founded after the 1984 presidential election, the commission has organized every general election debate since 1988 — and typically selects the dates, moderators, formats and locations without input from the candidates.

The third debate, scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee, is still on.

Full statement from Commission on Presidential Debates

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, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22.

Subject to health security considerations, and in accordance with all required testing, masking, social distancing and other protocols, the debate will take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

As announced on June 23, the debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments.  The topics for the six segments will be selected and announced by the moderator at least one week before the debate.  Kristen Welker of NBC News will serve as moderator for the debate.

Both candidates have agreed to participate in the October 22 debate.

COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES
Full Trump 2020 campaign statement

“There is no medical reason to stop the October 15 debate in Miami from proceeding as scheduled, since the President will be healthy and ready to debate. There is also no reason there shouldn’t be the three total presidential debates as Joe Biden had originally agreed. We have suggested using October 22 and October 29 to hold the final two debates. It’s time for the biased commission to stop protecting Biden and preventing voters from hearing from the two candidates for president.

There’s nothing that says that President Trump and Joe Biden can’t debate together without the overlords at the commission having a say in the matter.  We would be glad to debate one-on-one without the commission’s interference.”

TIM MURTAUGH, TRUMP 2020 COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR

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