On Oct. 2, the President of the United States and the First Lady were diagnosed with COVID-19, the same virus that he has belittled and refused to take seriously. However the president’s reactions to his condition have been questionable, especially when it comes to the second presidential debate. Donald Trump should not have been granted the right to quit that debate and it’s clearly a political move.
This is not all the decision of the current administration: the second presidential debate was technically cancelled by the Commission of Presidential Debates. This is a bipartisan, nonprofit corporation that has managed the debates since the late ‘80s. However, it is the incumbent’s choice that no replacement event is happening at all. On Oct. 9, when the Commission canceled the event, they offered an alternative virtual debate to be held from remote locations. Trump quickly knocked down this idea claiming that it was a “joke” and a “waste of time.” He never gave a concrete reason as to why the virtual debate would not be acceptable for his campaign team. However the reason is clear to anyone paying attention, he’s attempting to retreat from another mess up.
At the first debate the Biden campaign received $3.8 million in the hour after the event had ended, making them break the record for funds raised in a single hour on Democratic fundraising website ActBlue. A poll from FiveThirtyEIght found that 50% of viewers thought the president’s performance at the debate was “very poor.” An NBC/WSJ poll found that Biden polled 14 points ahead of the president after the debate, which was a jump of four points from before.
Needless to say the debate did not go well for Trump. He seriously floundered his first debate opportunity, seeming more unprofessional than usual, refusing to answer questions and consistently harassing the vice president. So, is it any surprise that he didn’t want a repeat of the first debate and possibly more time to prepare for the third and final debate?
This is not a disagreement on the validity of virtual debates, this a tactical retreat by the president and his team. It’s disgraceful for democracy and seems cowardly: Trump is seemingly too scared to face the music and is using his condition to justify running away. The country will see how this extra time helps him for the final debate, although this extra time feels like a cop out.