The second Biden-Trump debate, originally scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, has been canceled by the Commission on Presidential Debates, according to a statement released on Friday by the commission.
Organizers had initially shifted the debate to a virtual format, citing safety concerns about the coronavirus. Mr. Trump rejected that idea, saying he would not participate unless the debate was restored to its original, in-person format. Joseph R. Biden Jr. then committed to attending an ABC News town hall that evening in Philadelphia.
In a statement, Biden campaign aide Andrew Bates said: “It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions — but it’s no surprise. Everyone knows that Donald Trump likes to bully reporters, but obviously he doesn’t have the guts to answer for his record to voters at the same time as Vice President Biden.”
The commission reiterated its intentions Friday to hold the final presidential debate on Oct. 22 in Nashville. The Trump campaign is on board. Mr. Biden’s campaign has agreed to participate, either as a one-on-one matchup with Mr. Trump, or in a town-hall-style format where both candidates take questions from voters.
The Trump campaign and officials at NBC News were negotiating plans for the president to appear at his own town hall on the network next week, likely on the night of Mr. Biden’s ABC event, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.
The NBC event is likely to only occur if certain medical conditions are met, according to two people familiar with the conversations, including Mr. Trump testing negative for the coronavirus.
Aides to Mr. Trump claim that the debate commission changed the Miami event to a virtual format to aid Mr. Biden. The co-chairman of the commission, Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., said on Friday that was not the case. He said that officials at the Cleveland Clinic, which is advising on health protocol, believed a remote format was safest given Mr. Trump’s illness and the uncertainty about his health.
“Our crew, our cameramen, our lighting people, were very, very upset,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said in an interview with the Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade. “They were onstage with the president in Cleveland. He wasn’t wearing a mask. They’re upset, they’re concerned about their families.”
Mr. Kilmeade asked Mr. Fahrenkopf if the debate commission would consider an in-person debate in Miami next week if Mr. Trump was recovered by then. Mr. Fahrenkopf said the president’s doctors were in contact with the Cleveland Clinic and that Mr. Trump’s condition remained in doubt.
“We’re talking about something that would happen in less than a week,” Mr. Fahrenkopf said of the Miami debate. “At this point and time, there is no evidence whatsoever whether or not the president tested negative.” He also said the commission could have difficulty finding voters “who aren’t afraid” to share a stage with Mr. Trump at a Miami town-hall event.
“We decided we’re going to do what’s safe,” he said.
On Friday, Mr. Trump tweeted an attack on the scheduled moderator of the Miami debate, Steve Scully of C-SPAN, calling him “a Never Trumper” and adding, “Fix!!!” There is no evidence that Mr. Scully is biased against the president.
Some supporters of Mr. Trump seized on a post that appeared overnight on Mr. Scully’s Twitter account, in which the moderator appeared to be communicating with Anthony Scaramucci, Mr. Trump’s former communications director and now a sharp critic of the president.
C-SPAN said in a statement that Mr. Scully “believes his account has been hacked” and that the debate commission “is investigating with the help of authorities.”
The moderator for the Oct. 22 debate in Nashville is Kristen Welker of NBC News.
— NewYork times