Debate commission cancels Oct. 15 Trump-Biden debate

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has officially canceled the second debate between President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE scheduled for Oct. 15 after the candidates signaled they planned to attend other events that day amid a dispute over the terms for the debate.

The announcement puts to rest speculation over whether the event would take place in a modified format next week following a back-and-forth that began early Thursday when Trump rejected the commission's plans to shift the debate to a virtual event amid health concerns after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Biden's campaign initially committed to continue on with the debate, though it indicated later Thursday after it became apparent that Trump would not participate in a virtual debate that Biden planned to instead attend a town hall in Pennsylvania hosted by ABC News.


"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 a statement Friday night.

A debate scheduled for Oct. 22 is still slated to take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., the commission said, subject to health security considerations and in accordance with coronavirus guidelines.

Trump's campaign had argued that the debate scheduled for next week should continue in person as originally planned, though organizers expressed doubts that a physical event would take place given Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis last week and a lack of evidence that he has since tested negative for the disease.

"There is no medical reason to stop the October 15 debate in Miami from proceeding as scheduled, since the President will be healthy and ready to debate," Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said in a statement to The Hill. "There is also no reason there shouldn’t be the three total presidential debates as Joe Biden had originally agreed."

"It’s time for the biased commission to stop protecting Biden and preventing voters from hearing from the two candidates for president," Murtaugh added. He said the campaign would be open to debating Biden "without the commission's interference."

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