• Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien called the change in format "pathetic"
  • Trump said he would hold a rally rather than debate Joe Biden virtually
  • The Commission on Presidential Debates had said it would change the rules to prevent a repeat of last week's presidential matchup

Update 11:40 a.m. EDT

In a statement, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said he was prepared to accept the proposed virtual format and accused President Donald Trump of not wanting to face questions from voters "about his failures on COVID and the economy." He proposed moving the town hall debate to the following week "so that the president is not able to evade accountability."

Original story

President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected plans to change next week's second presidential debate to a virtual affair in light of his coronavirus infection, calling it a "waste" of his time.

Trump said on Fox Business he would not "waste my time" on a virtual matchup with Democratic rival Joe Biden, citing the ability of moderators to cut off his mic. Instead, Trump said he would hold a rally, despite the chance he still would be contagious.

Trump spent the weekend at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after being diagnosed with COVID-19, developing a high fever and suffering a drop in blood oxygen levels. He was released Monday to the White House medical unit where treatments continued.

The debate next Thursday had been planned as a town hall format at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

"The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations," the Commission on Presidential Debates said in a statement early Thursday. Only moderator Steve Scully, senior executive producer and political editor at C-SPAN, and audience participants were to be at the performing arts center.

"I'm not going to do a virtual debate," Trump told Fox Business. "I’m not going to waste my time at a virtual debate." He said sitting at a computer to debate was "ridiculous" and accused the commission of "trying to protect Biden. Everybody is."

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien called the change in format "pathetic."

The commission had said it would be instituting new rules after last week's raucous matchup in which both candidates talked over each other -- Trump more than three times as many times as Biden. The debate also descended into name-calling, with Biden referring to Trump as a "clown" and Trump calling Biden stupid.

Stepien said the commission could have come up with health protections that would have insulated participants from contagion short of going virtual.

"We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead," Stepien said.

Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield issued a statement, saying Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people.

Reince Priebus, former White House chief of staff and former head of the Republican party, told CBS there are all kinds of problems with virtual debates, including the inability to guarantee the candidates are not leaning on teleprompters or other aids.