The clouds of uncertainty over the second presidential debate became denser as Trump refused to participate in the debate. The debate was scheduled to be held in Miami on October 15. As polls suggest, Trump is significantly trailing behind Biden. The debate was an opportunity for him to tilt the balance towards him. He was even eager to take on Biden in Miami debate. The reason for his refusal is not the debate but the proposed format of the debate.
Trump has refused because the organising body announced that the debate will be held virtually. Biden on other hand has welcomed the move. Earlier, he refused to debate with Trump if he was still suffering from coronavirus.
The Commission for Presidential Debates is a nonpartisan body that overlooks organisation of all presidential and vice-presidential debates. It has given directives that participants and the moderator will continue debate from remote locations. They have to be, however, in Miami only.
The commission’s decision came because the President was departed from Walter Reed Military Hospital in the contagious state. Trump has regularly downplayed the significance of the virus but the Commission’s decision establishes the virus as strong enough to avert a very important tradition of US presidential debate. Trump can not digest this.
Why is Trump resisting to a virtual debate?
The idea of holding a virtual presidential debate is contrary to Trump’s assertion that the virus is not such a big threat as it is projected. He has spent a whole year propagating this idea. How can he tackle down at the final moment?
The commission’s decision also strikes down the relentless claims of White House that President has recovered from the illness and he is feeling great. Republicans fear that if Trump submits to the idea of virtual debates, it will be blowback to their campaign.
Another important fact is that the virtual debate is not a big enough opportunity to save Trump campaign. He is badly trailing behind Biden and needs something rigorous to swing the public mood towards him. Trump would have been able to do so if it were a real debate. He could have deployed his deflecting ability to get voters within his fold. He is not so confident with virtual debate.
Trump is certainly more outspoken than Biden. He needs the crowd and audience. He has an edge with them. There have been instances of presidential debates in American history when participants didn’t share the real stage.
The 1960s debate between Kennedy and Nixon
It was the first televised presidential debate in America. The young and dynamic Kennedy had a face-off the experienced Nixon. The two participants were miles apart.
Kennedy defeated Nixon in a very narrow contest. Majority of voters admitted that the debate was decisive for them to chose their candidate. Virtual debates have their own set of merits and demerits but their efficiency cannot be ruled out completely. Trump is opting out because it doesn’t suit him.
Trump is undermining the decision of the Commission entitled with the task of organising presidential debates. If Trump remains firm in his assertion, there might not be any debate at all.
What if there is no debate?
Biden is leading Trump. He just needs to defend his votes. It will be an advantage for him as he has nothing to lose. He is aware that Trump administration is facing public mistrust on account of coronavirus mishandling. He keeps on adding oil to the fire and that will suffice. Biden has a great advantage as he is free to go for a person to person campaign.
The debate is more crucial from Trump’s perspective. But the virtual debate will not just be sufficient for him. He has rejected it outright. One thing is certain that Trump will keep denying the threat of coronavirus. In case there is no debate, he will switch to alternate methods to convince voters. He will resort to public campaigns that he is already planning. In Trump’s dictionary, only politics prevail. There is no health and safety.