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Trump refuses to participate in virtual debate

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US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would not participate in a debate with Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden under a new format announced Thursday by the debates commission in which each candidate would appear at remote locations.

In an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Trump said the new virtual format announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates was not acceptable to him.

“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” he said soon after the rule changes were announced.

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Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager said in a statement that “President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everybody knows it.

“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. That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done,” Stepien, who also tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week, said.

The commission said the debate, scheduled for October 15, would see the audience – who typically ask the candidates questions in a town-hall meeting format – and moderator Steve Scully gathering in one location in Florida, Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

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The decision was made “to protect the health and safety of all involved,” the commission added.

Last Thursday, Trump tested positive for Covid-19, raising concerns that he had infected Biden and moderator Chris Wallace during the first debate on the preceding Tuesday. Biden has tested negative.

The president said on Thursday he is feeling good enough to resume campaigning and he does not believe he is contagious.

“I’m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen,” Trump told Bartiromo in his first interview since it was revealed nearly a week ago that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.—Al Jazeera

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