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US elections: Trump recommends postponing debates, Biden says no

Published: Updated:

US President Donald Trump Thursday recommended postponing the remaining two debates with Democratic nominee Joe Biden after debate organizers said the second debate would be held virtually due to the president’s case of coronavirus.

The second debate, scheduled as a town hall-styled event, was set for October 15 but that timeline is now likely to be scrapped after Trump, who is recovering from the coronavirus, rejected the change to a virtual format.

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After Trump’s rejection, Biden said he would find a way to take questions from the public and accused the president of escaping his responsibilities to the American people.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, then released a statement calling for both debates to be pushed back a week because “Americans deserve to hear directly from both presidential candidates on these dates, October 22 and 29.”

Stepien lashed out at the Commission of Presidential Debates for wanting “to protect Joe Biden.”

“It remains extremely suspect that the CPD announced the brand new virtual format at 7:30 am ET today immediately after Vice President Mike Pence had just wiped the floor with Senator Kamala Harris. Clearly, the commission wanted to shift attention away from Pence’s complete victory,” he said.

Pence and Biden’s running mate, Harris, took part in the only vice-presidential debate on Wednesday evening. Although it was noticeably more civil than the first debate between Trump and Biden, both parties claimed victory in the debate.

“As President Trump said, a virtual debate is a non-starter and would clearly be a gift to Biden because he would be relying on his teleprompter from his basement bunker,” Stepien said Thursday.

But the Biden camp fired back and rejected Trump’s recommendation, saying Trump’s “erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar and pick new dates of his choosing.”

A spokesperson for Biden said the former VP looked forward to the Oct. 22 debate, which the spokesperson said was “tied for the latest debate date in 40 years.”

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- With AP