Last Friday, the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled the second debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The decision came from the president’s reluctance to hold a virtual discussion after concerns over his positive diagnosis of COVID-19.
According to CNN, the cancellation followed a “furious 48-hour back-and-forth” between the commission and both campaigns, where commission health advisors recommended a virtual debate to protect both candidates.
“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.
After the disaster of the first presidential debate, President Trump seemed to be hiding behind the need for a new physical meeting, fearing that his remote participation would prevent him from taking control of the narrative — not to say the “interruption” of the discussion.
In response to Trump’s cancellation, a Biden spokeswoman quickly said they would have accepted a virtual format for next Thursday’s contest. Still, since the president had apparently withdrawn, they would reserve another setup for the former vice president to answer questions. And they did so when, later that day, ABC News announced that they would organize a town hall with the former vice president.
“Vice President Biden looks forward to making his case to the American people about how to overcome this pandemic, restore American leadership and our alliances in the world, and bring the American people together,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Friday in a statement. “It’s shameful that Donald Trump ducked the only debate in which the voters get to ask the questions — but it’s no surprise.
Between attacks on the Commission and the Biden campaign, the president’s team tried to undermine the authority and historic democratic tradition, as it has done with the rest of the pillars that safeguard freedom in the country during his administration.
“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’s campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, said in a statement on Friday. “There is also no reason there shouldn’t be the three total presidential debates as Joe Biden had originally agreed. We have suggested using October 22 and October 29 to hold the final two debates. It’s time for the biased commission to stop protecting Biden and preventing voters from hearing from the two candidates for president.”
He added that Trump would be willing to debate Biden without the commission’s involvement.
However, what seems to set the tone for his campaign decision is the fact that the president is losing numbers in the polls.
According to The Washington Post, what had been a steady national lead for Biden in the high digits at the end of the summer has now widened to 12 points in early October.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday fits the trend, putting Biden at 54% nationally and Trump at 42, a 12-point lead similar to the 10-point lead Biden had in a September poll. While the major battle-state polls have shown somewhat closer competition, the trajectory has been clear.
“These are not gigantic shifts, but when you were already down, it makes it even tougher,” said Chris Borick, director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. “What was bad has gotten worse for the president.”
Although it is too early to claim victory, the trend is clear: the Trump campaign seems destined to fail, after a train of bad decisions and a candidate who, with or without steroids, has proven to be the worst thing that has ever happened to the country.