KEY POINTS

  • Biden said the second debate with Trump should be canceled unless medical experts say otherwise
  • Trump's team insists he is healthy and will be ready for the second presidential debate, on Oct. 15
  • Trump's COVID diagnosis added fuel to the idea the remaining presidential debates should be canceled after the first chaotic one on Sept. 29

While Kamala Harris gears up for Wednesday’s debate with Vice President Mike Pence, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said the next presidential debate should be canceled if President Donald Trump is still testing positive for coronavirus.

“I think if he still has COVID, we shouldn’t have a debate,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday. However, he did not rule out the possibility of debating Trump again so long as he is medically cleared to do so and all necessary precautions are taken.

“I’m not sure what President Trump is all about now,” Biden said. “I don’t know what his status is. I’m looking forward to being able to debate him, but I just hope all the protocols are followed.”

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh responded, telling Forbes Trump will be physically able to do the second debate.

“President Trump will be healthy and will be there,” Murtaugh said. “There’s no getting out of this one for Biden and his protectors in the media can’t cover for him.”

Biden was asked about the second debate scheduled for Oct. 15 after delivering a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday. This followed a weekend of uncertainty after Trump said Friday he and Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus, sparking a slew of cases among top White House officials and Republican members of Congress.

Other notable positive tests included White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Adviser Hope Hicks, Trump campaign adviser Chris Christie, and former White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway.

While he has since returned to the White House, Trump has tried to maintain a strong image of recovery, yet questions linger about the president’s actual physical well-being. Trump’s personal physicians have only added fuel to the fire as they insist he is in good health but have spoken little about his diagnosis or treatment.

One fact known is Trump was prescribed the steroid dexamethasone, which some medical experts said could either be a sign Trump’s diagnosis is worse than he let on or his doctors prescribed him the wrong treatment.

“Does he have lung involvement?” Northwell Hospital pulmonologist Dr. Mangala Narasimhan told the New York Times. “My guess is yes, because they did give him a lot of medications that they would only give to someone who did.”

Trump’s diagnosis only enforced the looming idea of cancelling the remaining debates after the first debate on Sept. 29 descended into chaos. Moderator Chris Wallace struggled to maintain control as the two candidates, mostly Trump, regularly interrupted the other while answering. This led Biden to ask Trump “Will you shut up, man?”

“COVID-19 and Donald Trump's bullying behavior provide the excuse to do what should have been done already: cancel the presidential and vice presidential debates,” The Hill said on Sunday, adding the pandemic only highlights the dangers of holding the remaining debates.

“The Trump-Biden debate was one of the low, degrading moments in the history of American politics. That several people there, including the president, came down with the virus underscores the perils of forums today.”

Donald Trump and Joe Biden debate in Cleveland on September 29, 2020
Donald Trump and Joe Biden debate in Cleveland on September 29, 2020 POOL / Olivier DOULIERY
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