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Biden campaign calls for town hall to be moved after Trump rules out virtual debate

Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE’s campaign is calling for changes to the final debate after President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE pulled out of next week’s debate following the Commission on Presidential Debate’s announcement of a late change to the format.

The Oct. 15 debate — which was supposed to be the second out of three — was designed as a town hall-style event between Trump and Biden.

Trump announced Thursday he won’t be participating after the Commission said it would take place virtually, rather than in-person, because the president contracted the coronavirus.

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The Biden campaign is now calling on the commission to change the debate format for the Oct. 22 event to a town hall.

“We hope the Debate Commission will move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22nd, so that the President is not able to evade accountability,” Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Beddingfield, said. “The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly. Every Presidential candidate since 1992 has participated in such an event, and it would be a shame if Donald Trump was the first to refuse.”

The campaigns generally negotiate with the commission over the format and rules of the debates.

The Trump campaign says they were not consulted by the commission ahead of the announcement that the Oct. 15 town hall debate would take place virtually, rather than in-person.

“This was a decision they made without consultation with our campaign but it’s in line with their history of doing everything they can to protect Joe Biden,” said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

Trump now plans to hold a rally with supporters on Oct. 15, which might mark his first return to the campaign trail after he was hospitalized last weekend with the coronavirus.

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Biden now plans to hold his own town-hall event next Thursday. Bedingfield said Biden “will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly.”

Trump’s polling numbers have plunged since his first debate last week against Biden.

Republicans had been hopeful he would turn it around at the second debate next week. Instead, the second and final debate is scheduled for Oct. 22.