Donald Trump calls for two face-to face debates with Joe Biden after rejecting proposed virtual encounter

The Commission on Presidential Debate announced Thursday that next week's town hall debate in Miami would be held virtually because of Trump contracting coronavirus

Agence France-Presse October 09, 2020 09:24:52 IST
Donald Trump calls for two face-to face debates with Joe Biden after rejecting proposed virtual encounter

US president Donald Trump stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room after returning to the White House on 5 October. AP

Washington: US President Donald Trump wants two face-to-face debates with challenger Joe Biden, his campaign said Thursday, nixing a proposed virtual encounter but calling for a final showdown just five days before election day.

The two rivals clashed repeatedly over the issue, with Biden's camp stressing Trump can not "rewrite the calendar" of already-agreed dates for his benefit.

The second debate, scheduled as a town hall-styled event, was set for 15 October while the third and final encounter was due one week later.

That timeline was thrown into question after Trump, who is still being treating for COVID-19 , rejected the change to the second debate's virtual format.

An in-person town hall debate, with questions from voters, "should happen on 22 October, and accordingly, the third debate should then be shifted back one week to 29 October," just days from the 3 November vote, Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement.

Stepien also attacked the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, saying it "wants to protect Joe Biden" by shifting to a virtual format so that voters would not be able to "directly question" the former vice president about his long record.

The commission said earlier it was making the change so as to "protect the health and safety of all involved."

It said the debate would have a town hall structure, with the candidates in remote locations.

The Biden campaign said early Thursday that the Democratic nominee looked forward to "speaking directly to the American people."

In a follow up statement deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield reminded voters that Trump "doesn't make the debate schedule," and that both campaigns agreed to the three dates back in June.

"Trump's erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing," Bedingfield said.

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