Trump campaign adviser alleges Biden using COVID-19 as excuse to not show up for next presidential debates

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President Trump campaign adviser Steve Cortes said Thursday that Democratic nominee Joe Biden is using COVID-19 as an excuse to not show up for the next presidential debates.

Cortes told Fox News’s “Special Report With Bret Baier” that the Trump campaign’s proposed postponements for the next two debates by a week was “incredibly reasonable.” The Biden campaign rejected the Trump campaign’s proposal earlier on Thursday.

“There is no reasonable way that anybody can use the pretext of COVID to say that we cannot have debates on Oct. 22 and 29,” Cortes said. “They’re trying to use — they’re playing pandemic politics, Bret, and they’re trying to use the disease as a beard to cover up for them.”

The Trump campaign adviser asserted that Biden “does not want transparency” or “to be physically on stage without any assistance.”

“We can’t trust him to do a Zoom call from his basement where he could be assisted by teleprompters and staff,” he said.

“No, if he wants to be the commander in chief of the greatest republic in history, he has to get on the stage himself and face off with Donald Trump,” Cortes continued. 

Cortes added that “hopefully” the next moderator would not be “completely biased” and insert “himself into the process,” in a shot at Fox News’s Chris Wallace, who hosted the first debate, and the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Trump’s allies have repeatedly framed Biden as incapable of speaking without a teleprompter, and several suggested a virtual debate would unfairly benefit him. 

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday that the second debate between Trump and Biden originally scheduled for Oct. 15 would be virtual after the president’s positive COVID-19 test last week.

But shortly after, the president said he would not participate in a virtual debate.

“I’m not going to waste my time with a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do a debate — that is ridiculous,” Trump said on Fox Business.

Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Oct. 1 and spent three nights in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center due to reported low blood oxygen levels. The president insisted in a phone interview Thursday morning that he was feeling “perfect” and does not think he’s contagious.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend COVID-19 patients self-isolate for at least 10 days after symptoms began.

The Hill has reached out to the Biden campaign for comment.

Tags 2020 Debates 2020 election 2020 presidential election Biden campaign Chris Wallace Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Donald Trump presidential campaign Joe Biden Pandemic Teleprompter Trump positive test virtual debate

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