The second U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be virtual, with the two candidates speaking from separate remote locations, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday.
The announcement comes nearly a week after Trump said he’d tested positive for the coronavirus.
Shortly after the announcement, Trump told Fox News that he was not going to participate in the debate.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” he told Fox News on Thursday. “No, I’m not going to 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.”
Trump said he would not attend the debate if he was contagious but that he thinks he is now well enough to hold campaign rallies.
The Biden campaign welcomed the move.
“Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump’s failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” said deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield.
The debate, scheduled for Oct. 15, “will take the form of a town meeting,” organizers said, adding the decision was made to protect “the health and safety of all involved.”
The audience, who typically ask the candidates questions in the town-meeting format, and moderator Steve Scully will gather in one spot in Florida, Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the commission said in a statement.
In a statement, Biden’s campaign said he will find an “appropriate place” to take questions from voters directly on Oct. 15.
“Given the President’s refusal to participate on October 15th, we hope the Debate Commission will move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22nd, so that the President is not able to evade accountability,” the statement read.
The Trump campaign also released a statement saying the second debate should take place on Oct. 22 and the third on Oct. 29.