CPD switches to virtual debate amid White House coronavirus outbreak, Trump says he won’t ‘waste his time’

The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced that the next match between Vice President Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump is, like so many things these days, becoming virtual.

The debate, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, will still partially use Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, where plans call for moderator Steve Scully to be stationed.

However, the candidates themselves will be invited to appear from remote locations — and Trump has already made it known, at least for now, that he won’t participate in the virtual format (though it’s also highly likely he will change his mind later give his track record).

Trump, who regularly likes to call into Fox Media’s cable network featuring “Fox & Friends” in what some would describe as a one sided virtual debate all in his favor, said his campaign does not find the arrangement “acceptable.”

“I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate,” he said, also expressing concerns that a virtual debate moderator could cut him of at any time.

It’s not immediately clear if the CPD rules for the new debate would permit audio feeds from the two candidates’ locations be “cut off” or, if like the previous two debates so far, they would be left open at all times.

Scully, who works for C-SPAN, will apparently still take questions from participants in the auditorium in Miami, presumably under the same social distancing and safety guidelines as the Oct. 7, 2020 debate.

The Biden camp, meanwhile, has issued no objections and, in fact, welcomes the idea.

Trump began showing COVID-19 symptoms Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. That puts the Oct. 15 debate 15 days past this point.

CDC guidelines recommend positive coronavirus cases should remain isolated for 10 days from the point of showing symptoms and up to 20 days in more extensive cases (the commonly cited 14 day number still appears as a common guideline, but it does not account for asymptomatic days, according to experts).

For the Oct. 7 Vice Presidential Debate, Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign requested plastic dividers between her and Pence.

During the Oct. 7 debate, numerous viewers took to social media about once of Pence’s eyes, which appeared to be redder and slightly closed — speculating that it could be pink eye, a symptom of COVID-19 in same cases, though no diagnosis has not been officially confirmed.

The CPD does not (and cannot) require any presidential candidates to participate in debates, though many experts call it a serious misstep to skip one.

Meanwhile, later Oct. 8, 2020, Trump officially pulled out of the Oct. 15 debate — but that could change.

It appears if that were to happen, the Oct. 15 debate would essentially be canceled.

Biden’s camp suggested that the Oct. 22 debate should take on the town hall format — and then Trump’s team fired back that the remaining two debates should essentially be pushed back a week

The CPD has not issued any statements as of this writing about the possibility of rescheduling or changes to formats.