USA Election 2020

USA Election 2020: why was the second Trump vs Biden debate cancelled?

The second scheduled presidential debate was cancelled in recent weeks following a row over a "ridiculous" new format and concerns over coronavirus spread.

Why was the second debate between Trump and Biden cancelled?
JIM WATSON SAUL LOEB AFP

Trump-Biden debate cancelled 

Just a week before the debate was planned to take place on 15 October, the cancellation was officially confirmed. Just a day after president Donald Trump rejected a decision by the nonpartisan commission organizing it to change its format to a virtual event to protect against the spread of covid-19, following POTUS' infection with the virus.

The second debate, scheduled to be a town hall-style encounter in Miami would have been the second of three presidential debates. The final one is planned for tomorrow, 22 October in Nashville, Tennessee. After Trump refused to take part in the 15 October debate, Biden and Trump both held separate televised town hall meetings taking questions from the public.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said in an emailed statement: "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."

Trump calls debate proposal "ridiculous"

Trump announced on Friday, 2 October that he had tested positive for coronavirus and spent three days hospitalised receiving treatment before being released Monday 5 October. The Republican president, seeking re-election on 3 November, called the format change in which he and Biden were to participate from remote locations "ridiculous" and said it would be a waste of his time to take part.

Trump's campaign accused the commission, headed by a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, "biased" toward Biden.

"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 campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

The commission said both candidates have agreed to participate in the 22 October debate and would be subject to required coronavirus testing, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols.

"Trump ducked voters' questions"

"It's shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions - but it's no surprise," Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said.

Trump constantly interrupted and talked over both Biden and the moderator in the chaotic first debate.

The White House had declined to give clear indication as to when Trump last tested negative for the virus. But Trump, eager to get back on the campaign trail despite his bout with covid-19, gave remarks to supporters outdoors at the White House just days after his return from hospital, and then held a rally in Florida the following week.

Trump has faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic, as well as for a lax approach to mask-wearing and social distancing in the White House and in recent days confusing messages about how ill he has been.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Americans steadily losing confidence in how Trump has managed the pandemic, with his net approval rating on the issue hitting a new low.

The low-down on the final presidential debate.