Donald Trump insists on the next presidential debate being in-person, even though he has COVID-19

Despite currently recovering from COVID-19, Donald Trump says that he refuses to participate in a virtual election debate and will continue with the event, as planned.

Yesterday, The Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan organisation tasked with organising US presidential debates since 1988, announced that the next debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden would take place virtually. Minutes later, the US President was on the phone to Fox Business, claiming he would not take part in a virtual debate.

Joining Fox’s Maria Bartiromo, Trump said, “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.

Donald Trump virtual debate
Photo: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus last Friday (October 2nd) and has since received treatment at Walter Reed Hospital. Earlier in the week, however, Trump tweeted saying he was looking forward to the second debate, scheduled for October 15th.

Following Trump’s rejection of a virtual debate, Biden quickly organised a town hall interview, scheduled at the same time as the second debate, just without the President. “The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said.

Biden expressed concerns over an in-person debate with Trump earlier in the week, arguing that it should not go ahead if Trump was still contagious and that he would follow recommendations of health experts and The Committee.

The Trump campaign, however, did not express the same trust in the Presidential Debate Commission, with campaign manager Bill Stepien referring to the organisation as “Swamp Creatures,” and claiming that “to now rush to Joe Biden’s defence by unilaterally cancelling an in-person debate is pathetic.

Trump has made it known that he is eager to return to the campaign trail. White House physician Dr Sean Conley has announced that the President will be able to attend public engagements from this weekend.