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Commission cancels second debate between Trump and Biden

The cancellation is the culmination of a furious 48-hour back and forth between the commission and the two campaigns and means what would have been the third debate in Nashville on October 22 is likely to be the final meeting between the two candidates. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the Commission’s decision.

“It is now clear that there will be no debate on October 15 and the CPD will focus its attention on preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22,” the commission said in a statement.

The commission, with the support of its health advisors, announced Thursday morning that – as Trump tested positive for the coronavirus ̵

1; the debate that was scheduled for Miami would be held virtually, with the two candidates appearing from remote locations. Trump quickly dismissed that plan, saying he would not show up and kicking off a series of events that questioned the future of all general election debates.

In response to Trump’s cancellation, a spokeswoman for Biden promptly said they would accept a virtual format for next Thursday’s contest, but as the president was apparently bailed out, they would book another format for the former vice president to answer questions. . And they did just that when, later in the day, ABC News announced that they would be hosting a city hall with the former vice president.

“Vice President Biden is looking forward to presenting his cause to the American people on how to overcome this pandemic, restore American leadership and our alliances to the world and bring the American people together,” the campaign spokesman said in a statement Friday. by Biden, Andrew Bates. “It’s shameful that Donald Trump has avoided the only debate where voters can ask questions, but that’s no surprise.”

Trump’s campaign, in response to their candidate’s withdrawal from the debate, on Thursday made three statements that criticized the commission, prompted Biden’s campaign to accept a debate in person, and said she would be willing to reject the debate on the 15th. October one week to October 22 and then moves the third debate to October 29, a few days before the November 3 elections.

But Biden’s campaign rejected their proposal, with campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield saying in response, “Donald Trump doesn’t make the debate schedule; the debate commission does.”

Trump’s campaign supported him because the president’s doctor, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley, authorized him for the trip, the committee should move the debate into an in-person context. Trump is now in talks to do a city hall with NBC on Thursday in lieu of the debate, according to one person familiar with the plans, but that source warned that things have not yet been finalized.

If that event happened, both candidates would participate in town halls in separate events instead of the debate, which was to be a town hall style format.

“There is no medical reason to prevent the October 15 debate in Miami from proceeding as planned, since the president will be sane and ready to argue,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Friday. . “Also, there is no reason why there shouldn’t be the three total presidential debates as Joe Biden had initially agreed. We suggested using October 22 and 29 to hold the final two debates. Time for the side committee to stop. to protect Biden and prevent voters from hearing the two presidential candidates. “

He added that Trump would be willing to discuss Biden without the commission’s involvement.

The cancellation is a political loss for Trump, who is down in all national polls and is behind or tied to Biden in major swing states. The loss of a debate deprives the president of a platform he needs at a time when his campaign is overdue. The first debate between Trump and Biden, a chaotic affair, was followed by over 73 million people.

The reality for the commission, however, is that once Trump withdrew and Biden agreed to an ABC town hall, a second debate among the candidates was unlikely, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.

And commission head Frank Fahrenkopf told CNN Thursday night that Trump’s campaign push to hold an in-person debate next week in Miami, after the president had already withdrawn from the contest, did little to change the Commission conviction on the presidential debate that any debate next week must be virtual.

“The Cleveland Clinic should cancel it,” Fahrenkopf said. But, he added, that doesn’t involve Biden’s campaign again, which the commission chief thought unlikely to happen after conversations with Biden’s best associates.

“They’ve gone ahead and will do this thing with ABC,” Fahrenkopf added. “It doesn’t look good unless the Biden campaign changes your mind.”

Negotiations between the campaigns and the commission early Friday did not change the fact that the likelihood of a debate in Miami was low.

“It is fair to say that it looks like Miami is being canceled,” a source familiar with today’s negotiations told CNN. “I don’t think there is any movement on either side that will make Miami happen.”

This story was updated with the reaction to Friday night’s announcement.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and DJ Judd contributed to this report.

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