The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced that the second presidential debate slated to take place on October 15 will be completely virtual. The Commission stated that the decision was made in order to “protect the health and safety of all involved.” President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden would be in separate locations while the debate moderators would still be in Miami, the original location for the event.
The Commission on Presidential Debates has said the change was necessary due to President Trump’s recent bout with the Chinese Coronavirus.
President Trump responded to the Commission’s plan immediately stating, “I’m not doing a virtual debate.” President Trump also added that a virtual debate would be a waste of his time.
The Trump campaign released a much sterner statement:
President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everybody knows it. For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic. That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done.
Here are the facts: President Trump will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate, so there is no need for this unilateral declaration. The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head. We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.
Trump and Biden’s first debate slug fest was the cause of much consternation among Democrats and some Republicans. The two candidates repeatedly interrupted each other, with Biden telling Trump to “shut up” several times. Luckily, President Trump refused to let up, and repeatedly attacked Biden over such subjects as his soft stance on China and Hunter Biden’s international corruption.
Leftists, of course, were upset that Biden was unable to use the same tactics that allowed him to steamroll Paul Ryan when they met in the 2012 vice presidential debate. Pundits immediately began calling for a way to allow moderators to cut off the mics of the candidates if they attempted to interrupt each other.
President Trump made the right call here. A virtual debate would be a lot easier on Biden than the in person debate was. His team would have more opportunities to spoon feed answers to questions whether through a teleprompter or an ear piece. I imagine we would see a much more relaxed and with it Biden during a virtual debate. We might get a few gaffes out of him, but nothing like the cluster we saw last week.
Steve Scully, the moderator for the second debate, would have all the tools he would need to cut off a candidate’s mic during a virtual debate. I imagine they would be using a platform similar to Zoom or Skype. No doubt all it would take to stop a candidate mid-rant would be a simple press of a button. Given the fact that Steve Scully actually interned for Joe Biden and penned a NYT opinion piece titled “No, Not Trump, Not Ever” I think we can all assume who he would be cutting off most.
President Trump, by contrast, would likely be extremely annoyed at being cut off every time he attempted to make a point. I could see President Trump becoming frustrated during a virtual debate. President Trump isn’t one to hold anything back, and his annoyance would, I think, become painfully obvious after the first few minutes. Of course, President Trump’s frustration would be more than justified, but the American people wouldn’t see that. All they would see would be the President of the United States acting exactly as the Left has portrayed him these past four years. The media would have a field day.
There is the chance, of course, that President Trump’s refusal could backfire. It’s possible that skipping this virtual debate will be seen as President Trump running away from an honest debate. I think the statement released by the Trump campaign, however, goes a long way towards blunting that sort of criticism. The campaign came out almost immediately after the announcement and stated exactly why President Trump will be skipping a virtual debate. The campaign and the President need to constantly hit on the fact that a virtual debate is not a legitimate contest. Americans, by and large, value fairness in any competition. Why would they expect President Trump to participate in a contest where the deck was so obviously stacked against him?
The fact that President Trump is planning a rally that night as an alternative is also a point in his favor. This allows Trump to make the argument that he’s taking his case directly to the people where they can see it uncensored. That’s a powerful statement to make when you combine it with the fact that any virtual debate would give Biden an unfair advantage.
Of course, there’s still time for the Commission to reverse its decision. The Trump campaign has indicated that President Trump would be happy to move the second debate to another date given that President Trump should be self-isolating for 14 days after his battle with the Chinese Coronavirus. I highly doubt Biden will be amenable to scrapping an advantageous virtual debate for another in person knock down drag out.
Either way we’ll have to watch and see what happens. The media will naturally play Trump skipping the second debate off as a huge disaster and proof that he lost the first debate with Biden. It’s up to President Trump to make sure the American people know the real truth.