Washington, D.C. – Things got nasty between the two presidential campaigns last week. After the president announced he’d been diagnosed with the coronavirus, the Commission on Presidential Debates voted unanimously to make the October 15 debate virtual. What happened between the two campaigns that led to the cancelation of the debate? And what does this mean for future debates?
Upon learning the debate would be virtual on October 15, the president said in an interview with Fox News that a virtual debate would be a “waste [of] my time,” but the Biden campaign agreed with the Commission’s decision. After pushing back at the president’s refusal to participate, the Biden camp requested the scheduled October 22 debate be in a town hall-style format.
In response, the Trump campaign proposed moving the October 15 debate to October 29, just four days before the election. The Biden campaign rejected this proposal, with spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield saying, “Donald Trump doesn’t make the debate schedule; the Debate Commission does.” Tonight, the Biden campaign will hold a town hall event on ABC News, and NBC is reportedly in talks with the Trump campaign to host an outdoor rally.
Earlier this week, White House physician Sean Conley said the president is fit to return to interaction with the public. Conley also said the president has tested negative for the coronavirus. Both presidential candidates are still scheduled to debate on October 22.
What can we expect of the debate performances from the candidates moving forward? It is likely that the president will use the same hard edge tactics as in the first debate performance. He also may use his recovery from the coronavirus as a talking point in his rallies, to bolster the public’s opinion of him as a physically strong president. Biden will probably question the integrity of Trump’s health, but also focus on bringing the country together in unity.