The second debate between U.S. President Donald Trump and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden won’t take place, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced on Friday.
The decision came after the panel moved to hold the second face-off, scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, Florida, virtually, for the health and safety of all involved.
“Subsequently, the campaigns of the two candidates who qualified for participation in the debate made a series of statements concerning their respective positions regarding their willingness to participate in a virtual debate on October 15, and each now has announced alternate plans for that date,” the CPD said in a statement. “It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15.”
The nonpartisan commission said it will turn its attention to preparations for the final Trump-Biden encounter scheduled for Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, which both candidates have agreed to take part in.
The Nashville debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments, the topics of which will be selected and announced by moderator and NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker at least one week before the event, according to the statement.
Trump, who’s recovering from COVID-19 infection at the White House, has made clear that he won’t have a virtual debate with Biden. His campaign on Friday called the CPD “biased,” accusing it of “protecting Biden and preventing voters from hearing from the two candidates for president.”
The former U.S. vice president had agreed to a virtual format but later chose to attend a town hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that night instead in the wake of his Republican rival’s opposition to the change.
In a statement, a Biden campaign spokesman said it’s “shameful” that Trump ducked the only debate taking the form of a town meeting, in which the voters will ask the questions.
The opponents met for their first debate in the 2020 race in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 29, two days before the incumbent was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Biden has undergone multiple tests since Trump publicly confirmed he had contracted the disease, with each one returning negative.
Trump has completed his therapy, according to his physician, who has also medically cleared the president for public events from Saturday. However, the White House has repeatedly refused to disclose when he last had a negative test result.
The Republican, who is trailing Biden in national polls, is reportedly scheduled to hold an in-person event at the White House on Saturday. His reelection campaign announced on Friday that he will attend a rally in Sanford, Florida on Monday.