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US presidential debate slated for October 15 cancelled after Trump backs out of virtual format


The US presidential debate slated for October 15 has been cancelled by organisers after Donald Trump backed out of participating in a virtual debate.

The move leaves just one more debate on the schedule — October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee — before the November 3 election. (Photo: AP)

The October 15 presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will not proceed, the Commission on Presidential Debates said in a statement on Friday, adding that both campaigns had announced “alternate plans for that date.”

“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,” the commission said in an emailed statement.

This comes after President Trump, who has been eager to return to the campaign trail and hold live events, refused to participate in the virtual format and sought unsuccessfully to return it to an in-person debate.

The move leaves just one more debate on the schedule — October 22 in Nashville, Tennessee — before the November 3 election.

Debates have been a feature of every US presidential election since 1976, with three debates near the end of a campaign the standard since 2000.

The commission had announced Thursday it was converting the October 15 town hall debate to a virtual affair out of an abundance of caution because Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Biden had said earlier this week he would not debate Trump in person if he still had the virus, and his campaign called Trump’s refusal to adapt to a virtual format “shameful.”

“It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions — but it’s no surprise,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said.

Trump “doesn’t have the guts to answer for his record to voters at the same time as vice president Biden.”

The US president meanwhile plans to hold his first live event at the White House since being diagnosed with Covid-19.

All attendees will be told to wear masks they must bring, and will have to submit to a Covid-19 screening (Saturday) morning. This will consist of a temperature check and a brief questionnaire, according to a source familiar with the preparations.

(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)



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