Second Trump-Biden debate will be virtual, commission announces

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The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday that the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, scheduled for next week, will be conducted virtually.

The shift to a virtual format comes as Trump continues treatment for Covid-19 at the White House, after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday evening.

The upcoming face-off between Trump and Biden will be a town-hall style event “in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations, the commission said. The town hall participants and moderator Steve Scully of C-SPAN will be located as planned at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

Trump had signaled that he intended to take part in the debate despite his diagnosis, tweeting Tuesday that he was “looking forward” to the forum on Oct. 15 and that it “will be great!”

Trump’s top aides and advisers had also expressed hope in recent days that the president would be able to attend.

Biden also indicated Monday that he would be willing to participate in the debate “if scientists say that it’s safe,” but advised that “we should be very cautious” in organizing the event.

On Tuesday, however, Biden concluded that “we shouldn’t have a debate” if Trump remains infected with the coronavirus.

The nonpartisan debate commission had already been exploring alternative formats for next week’s debate in the aftermath of the first clash between Trump and Biden — which saw the president repeatedly interrupt his opponent and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.

The commission announced last week that the first debate demonstrated the need for “additional structure” in the format of the remaining forums to “ensure a more orderly discussion.”

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