Second Presidential Debate On Ice As Candidates Opt for Separate Events

October 8, 2020 by Dan McCue
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON – It appears the final two scheduled presidential debates of the 2020 election cycle are not going to happen.

After a morning of fast-moving events, ABC News has announced that Democratic nominee Joe Biden will take part in a town hall forum hosted by the network on the night that was supposed to be the second presidential debate.

The Oct. 15 event, announced via Twitter, will be moderated by ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Earlier, President Donald Trump had balked at the decision by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates to make the second debate a virtual event due to his being infected with the coronavirus.

Appearing on Fox News Business Thursday morning, minutes after the commission’s decision was announced, Trump said the decision to forgo a live debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami was unacceptable.

He went on to accuse the commission of trying to “protect” former Vice President Biden.

The commission’s plan was to have the town hall-style debate take place virtually, with Biden and Trump participating from separate locations, and moderator Steve Scully and voters participating in Florida.

The decision to alter the debate came after health experts questioned the wisdom of the president participating in a live debate while he is still recovering from the virus.

After the president made his feelings about the change known, the Trump campaign also objected to the plan, saying it had not been consulted beforehand.

It said it would hold a campaign rally on Oct. 15, and asked the commission to delay the two remaining debates until later in the month, a suggestion that was greeted coolly by the Biden camp, which said the commission, not the Trump campaign, should set the schedule for any future debates.

Meanwhile Nielsen ratings announced Thursday the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris Wednesday night was a much bigger audience draw than the VP debate in 2016.

According to its preliminary analysis of the ratings, Nielsen said more than 50 million people watched Wednesday’s VP debate across the seven biggest channels on television.

About 35 million people watched the 2016 debate between Pence and Tim Kaine on the same seven channels.

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