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Donald Trump refuses to take part in virtual presidential debate

US President Donald Trump has refused to take part in a virtual TV debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden. He called the moderator a "never-Trumper".

Donald Trump Joe Biden

US President Donald Trump has refused to take part in a virtual TV debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden as he wanted the debate to take place in person.

Donald Trump refuses virtual debate

Earlier today it was decided that the 15 October Miami debate would be a virtual one following the President’s Covid diagnosis. He has no symptoms of the virus at present but those around him in the White House are regularly testing positive.

Trump said the move to virtual was to “protect” his rival Joe Biden. The Commission on Presidential Debates said the decision had been taken “to protect the health and safety of all involved”. The election will be held on 3 November. Latest opinion polls put Trump marginally behind Biden nationally although swing states often decide who will win the election.

Of the virtual debate, Donald Trump said: “I’m not gonna waste my time on a personal debate. Sit behind a computer, ridiculous. They cut you off… I’m not doing a virtual debate.” He also added that Steve Scully, the moderator, was a “never-Trumper”. Bill Stepien, Trump campaign manager, said the commission had rushed “to Joe Biden’s defence” and was “pathetic” considering that Trump would have registered “multiple negative tests” in time for the debate. A rally will be held in place of the debate.

When pressed about his health, Donald Trump made the statement: “I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen.” His doctor has said that he now has no Covid symptoms but it is still unclear if he could still spread the virus. New Covid safety measures are in place in the White House regardless. The final debate is currently scheduled for 22 October in Tennessee and this debate will surely take place as the President will undoubtedly be healthy to take part by then and any move from the Biden camp to get out of the engagement would be portrayed as cowardice.

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