December 3, 2020

Joe Biden says he will hold a solo town hall after Trump backed out of the next debate
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign team on Thursday said he is going to do a solo town hall after President Donald Trump backed out of the next debate.
  • ABC News will host the Biden town hall in Philadelphia on Oct. 15.
  • After the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the next debate would be held virtually, Trump, who is infected with COVID-19, said he wouldn’t do it.
  • After Biden’s announcement, the president’s campaign called for the second debate to be moved back to Oct. 22 and for the third to be held on Oct. 29.
  • Then Biden’s team shot back, saying, “Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign team announced on Thursday that he will do a solo town hall instead of participating in the next presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 15.

ABC News is set to host the town hall in Philadelphia with George Stephanopoulos as the moderator. 

“Joe Biden was prepared to accept the CPD’s proposal for a virtual Town Hall, but the President has refused, as Donald Trump clearly does not want to face questions from the voters about his failures on COVID and the economy. As a result, Joe Biden will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on October 15th, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks,” the Biden campaign said in a statement.

Biden’s campaign expressed hope that the commission would move the debate to Oct. 22 so that Trump is “not able to avoid accountability.”

“The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly. Every presidential candidate since 1992 has participated in such an event, and it would be a shame if Donald Trump was the first to refuse,” the statement added.

The announcement came after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the next debate would be virtual to protect “the health and safety of all involved,” which prompted President Donald Trump to back out. Trump is still infected with COVID-19 and receiving treatment.

“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,” Trump said in an interview with the Fox Business Network on Thursday morning.

The Trump campaign said the president would hold a rally in lieu of a debate. The president is trailing Biden by a significant margin in national polls and recent polling in crucial battleground states. The decision to opt out of a virtual debate denies Trump major exposure to millions of voters with his campaign teetering and Election Day just weeks away. 

After Biden’s announcement on Thursday, the president’s campaign also called for the debate to be moved back to Oct. 22. Additionally, the Trump campaign called for the third debate, originally scheduled for Oct. 22, to be moved back a week to Oct. 29. 

In a statement, Trump’s campaign baselessly accused the commission of attempting to give Biden an advantage via a virtual debate.

“As President Trump said, a virtual debate is a non-starter and would clearly be a gift to Biden,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in the statement. 

Polling gave Biden much higher marks from voters than Trump in terms of their performances in the first debate, which took place in person just two days before the president was diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Later on Thursday, the Biden campaign pushed back on the Trump campaign’s suggestion that both debates be rescheduled. 

“Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

The back and forth between the two campaigns puts the future of the next two debates in question with time running out before the election.

This article has been updated.

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