Joe Biden rejects Donald Trump's calls to push back Presidential debates

8 October 2020, 13:20 | Updated: 8 October 2020, 19:15

Donald Trump has refused to take part in the virtual Presidential debate
Donald Trump has refused to take part in the virtual Presidential debate. Picture: Donald Trump

By Kate Buck

Joe Biden has rejected Donald Trump's proposal to push back their remaining two debates in the wake of the president's coronavirus diagnosis.

In a statement, Trump's campaign manager had suggested that in-person debates should be held on 22 and 29 October instead after the President said he would not take part in a virtual debate.

Mr Trump earlier said a virtual debate would be a "waste of my time," that the the change in format was "not acceptable to us" and that it was being run virtually "to protect Joe Biden"

But the Democrat candidate says it is not up to President Trump to set the schedule for the high-profile clash.

Read more: Kamala Harris: Trump's handling of Covid 'greatest failure' in presidential history

Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield says the campaign had long ago agreed to debate dates of September 29, October 15 and October 22.

The Biden camp says President Trump's "erratic behaviour does not allow him to rewrite the calendar and pick new dates of his choosing".

Having called in to Fox News, Trump said: "I beat him (Mr Biden) easily in the first debate, according to the polls I've seen, but I beat him easily, I felt I beat him easily and I think he felt it too.

"He wouldn't answer any questions and he had the protection of Chris Wallace all night long, I thought Chris Wallace was a disaster.

"But I beat him in the first debate and in the second debate we have a never-Trumper as a host, that's ok because i beat him in the second debate also.

"I'm not going to do a virtual debate."

He added: "I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that's not what debating's all about, you sit behind a computer and it's ridiculous and then they cut you off whenever they want.

"I have a host who I always thought was a nice guy but I see he's a never-Trumper".

It has cast serious doubts on whether the event will go forward, even as Mr Biden's campaign vowed that its candidate will participate.

"Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people," deputy Biden campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

It was announced just minutes earlier that the second debate would be held virtually with candidates participating “from separate remote locations" due to Trump's coronavirus diagnosis.

The decision comes amid concerns about Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, which required the president to be hospitalised at Walter Reed Medical Center.

The president returned to the White House on Monday.

In a statement, the Commission on Presidential debates said: "In order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15 2020, the Commission on Presidential debates announced the following today.

"The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate, remote locations."