The Commission on Presidential Debates reportedly made the decision on Friday, about a week after President Trump announced he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for coronavirus. Shortly after POTUS' diagnosis, the CPD announced the second showdown—originally scheduled for Oct. 15—would be conducted virtually to ensure the safety of all participants.
As previously reported, Trump expressed opposition to a virtual format, telling Fox News: "I'm not going to waste my time [...] That's not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate — it's ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want."
CBS News' Ed O'Keefe shared a statement from the commission via Twitter on Friday night, confirming the Miami debate had been scratched.
"The campaigns of the two candidates who qualified for participation in the debate made a series of statements concerning their respective positions regarding their willingness to participate in a visual debate … and each now has announced alternate plans for that date," the statement read.
Biden is scheduled to appear at a town hall hosted by ABC News next Thursday. Trump is reportedly in talks with NBC News to host a similar event on the same night.
The final debate between Trump and Biden is still scheduled for Oct. 22.
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"The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations," a rep for the commission explained via a press release Thursday morning. "The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate."
Shortly after this announcement, Trump—who is still a fan of downplaying the pandemic even after his reported COVID-19 diagnosis—went on Fox News to claim (among other things) that he has now decided not to participate in the debate against Joe Biden.
"I'm ready to do and I'm looking forward to doing the rallies," Trump said of his arguable super-spreader events. "I heard that the commission a little while ago changed the debate style and that's not acceptable to us. I beat him easily in the first debate, according to the polls that I've seen. But I beat him easily and I felt I beat him easily and I think he felt it too. He wouldn't answer any questions and he had the protection of Chris Wallace all night long. I thought Chris Wallace was a disaster."
After a bit more of that, Trump finally made his way back around to the topic at hand.
"I'm not gonna do a virtual debate," he said. "No, I'm not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate. That's not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate? It's ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want."
The Trump administration also shared a statement from campaign manager (and one of Trump's fellow positive test recipients) Bill Stepien in which it was announced that they would "do a rally instead."
Biden meanwhile, will take part in a town hall on ABC hosted by George Stephanopoulos on the night that the debate was set to take place.