Trump Says He Won't Appear Virtually at Miami Presidential Debate UPDATED

Will Donald Trump show up to the Miami presidential debate after his COVID diagnosis?
Will Donald Trump show up to the Miami presidential debate after his COVID diagnosis? Photos by Gage Skidmore
Update, 9:22 a.m.: The Commission on Presidential Debates announced this morning that President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have been invited to appear virtually for next week's presidential debate in Miami. Moderator Steve Scully and the South Florida participants who will pose questions to the candidates will be broadcast from the Arsht Center in downtown Miami. But it appears the president may not participate — he told Fox Business he wasn't "going to waste my time on a virtual debate."

Ever since President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week, the fate of Miami's October 15 presidential debate has hung in the balance.

As of last night, Trump remained sick, although he claims to be feeling fine. In a video shot in front of the White House Rose Garden yesterday, the president said it was a "blessing from God" that he contracted the coronavirus.

At the same Rose Garden a week and a half earlier, Trump and other White House officials attended a ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The function has been dubbed a "superspreader" event — 11 attendees have since tested positive for COVID.

Concerns about a similar outcome have dogged the debate scheduled for Miami next week. But last night at the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, moderator Susan Page concluded by telling viewers the presidential debate was on for next Thursday, October 15.

"Our best wishes for a quick recovery to President Trump, the First Lady, and everyone who is battling COVID-19," Page said. "The second presidential debate is next week on October 15; a townhall-style debate in Miami. We hope you'll join us then."
If all goes according to plan and Trump is able to attend, the Miami debate will take place downtown at the Arsht Center, where last summer's first Democratic debates took place. The showdown is scheduled to air on all the major networks from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Unlike the first debate in Cleveland, the Miami debate will be conducted as a so-called town meeting. South Florida residents who have not yet committed to Biden or Trump will have the opportunity to pose questions to the candidates. The participants will be chosen by a senior scientist at Gallup, according to The Commission on Presidential Debates.

C-SPAN anchor Steve Scully — dubbed "the most patient man on television" by HBO's John Oliver — will act as moderator. Scully's Twitter feed remained quiet during last night's VP debate — the only activity was a retweet of a C-SPAN clip showing a fly landing on Vice President Mike Pence's head.
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Jessica Lipscomb is the former news editor of Miami New Times.