Former Vice President Joe Biden said it would be “irresponsible” to say whether he would participate in a virtual debate if President Trump makes good on his refusal to take part in next week’s contest because the commander-in-chief constantly changes his mind.
“We don’t know what the president’s going to do. He changes his mind every second. For me to comment on that now would be irresponsible,” Biden told reporters in Arizona where he’s holding a campaign event. “You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth.”
The president, speaking on Fox Business shortly after the Commission for Presidential Debates announced the change in format, said he wouldn’t “waste my time.”
“No, I’m not going to waste my time in a virtual debate,” Trump told Maria Bartiromo. “That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do … and then they cut you off whenever they want.”
The commission said the Oct. 15 debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts will continue in its planned town hall format with C-Span political editor Steve Scully as moderator but the candidates will take part from separate remote locations.
The announcement came after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus last Thursday – two days after he and Biden met for their first debate in Cleveland.
Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, floated the idea that the president may hold a rally instead.
“For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic,” Stepien said in a statement. “The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head. We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”
Asked about the rally, Biden said he would follow the commission recommendations.
“If he goes off and he’s going to have a rally, I’ll – I don’t know what I’ll do,” he said.
His campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield suggested the commission change the third debate format to a town hall.
“Joe Biden was prepared to accept the 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,” Bedingfield said in a statement.
“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,” it continued.
With Post wires
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