The Commission on Presidential Debates has officially announced that the upcoming presidential debate, a town hall-style event with President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, will not be going forward. While the commission announced earlier this week that the debate would commence virtually, in a statement Friday evening, the commission said that it had now become “apparent” that the debate wouldn’t happen, saying that each campaign had already made alternative arrangements.
“On October 8, CPD announced that for the health and safety of all involved, the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15 in Miami, would be conducted virtually. Subsequently, the campaigns of the two candidates who qualified for participation in the debate made a series of statements concerning their respective positions regarding their willingness to participate in a virtual debate on October 15, and each now has announced alternate plans for that date,” announced the debate commission Friday. “It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22.”
“Subject to health security considerations, and in accordance with all required testing, masking, social distancing and other protocols, the debate will take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee,” continued the statement. “As announced on June 23, the debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments. The topics for the six segments will be selected and announced by the moderator at least one week before the debate. Kristen Welker of NBC News will serve as moderator for the debate.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 9, 2020
The commission attributed the original format change to the need “to protect the health and safety of all involved,” a decision that promptly received push-back from the Trump campaign, which said that such safety measures could be achieved without going virtual.
“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,” said Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien.
Disagreement ensued between the Trump campaign and Biden campaigns on whether the debate should be moved, whether another debate should be added, or whether the debate should resume in-person as scheduled after the president’s physician released a statement saying Trump should be well enough to resume normal activities by Saturday.
Complicating the debate over the debate format was a recent development from C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully, who was chosen to moderate the second contest, but has subsequently become the subject of debate in his own right for a tweet directed at former Trump Administration communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
In the tweet, Scully publicly asked Scaramucci whether he should respond to the president. The tweet did not contain additional context. Scaramucci, in turn, responded by saying that Scully should simply ignore him.
C-SPAN has since released a statement saying that Scully claims he was hacked: “Last night, a tweet from Steve Scully, C-SPAN’s Political Editor, appeared on his timeline communicating with Anthony Scaramucci. Steve Scully did not originate the tweet and believes his account has been hacked. The Commission on Presidential Debates has stated publicly that the tweet was not sent by Scully himself and is investigating with the help of authorities. When additional information is available, we will release it.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 9, 2020
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