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Trump Refuses To Do Virtual Debate Because He’s a Big Baby

Dude, don't you still have COVID-19?

Donald Trump gestures during the presidential debate.

Donald Trump announced he was pulling out of the next presidential debate, after the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to hold a virtual town hall. The virtual debate comes in the wake of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and hospitalization at Walter Reed Medical Center, after hosting a super-spreader event at the White House that left nearly two dozen attendees testing positive for the coronavirus. The commission said they were moving to an online event for “the health and safety of all involved.”

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During an interview on Fox Business, Trump said the new debate format is “not acceptable to us,” adding “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate.” The Biden camp had zero problem with the change of format, likely because they don’t want to participate in another one of Trump’s super-spreader events.

Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield released a statement saying, “Joe Biden was prepared to accept the CPD’s proposal for a virtual Town Hall, but the president has refused, as Donald Trump clearly does not want to face questions from the voters about his failures on COVID and the economy.” She added, “We hope the Debate Commission will move the Biden-Trump Town Hall to October 22nd, so that the President is not able to evade accountability.”

Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, who tested positive for coronavirus last week, attacked the commission. “For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defense by unilaterally canceling an in-person debate is pathetic. That’s not what debates are about or how they’re done,” Stepien said, adding, “We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”

It’s hardly a surprise that Trump won’t commit to the second debate after his dismal and universally panned performance in the first debate. After all, if the debate is virtual, the moderators can turn off his microphone when he refuses to stop interrupting. But the real reason Trump won’t debate Biden is simple: he’s a big whiny baby who is too scared to do so. He’s also notoriously terrible at Town Hall-style formats, where he cannot simply lash out at voters asking him reasonable questions.

Many called out Trump’s cowardice and refusal to participate, including Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who said, “Every time there’s been a choice to do something in a way that’s more safe or less safe, this president seems to push for less safe. I think it’s also probably a reflection of the weakness of his campaign.” Also a general disregard for human life!

Bedingfield added that Biden will pursue his own Town Hall event: “As a result, Joe Biden will find an appropriate place to take questions from voters directly on Oct. 15, as he has done on several occasions in recent weeks.”

Virtual debates are not unheard of, and already have historical precedent. In 1960, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy participated in a debate from opposite coasts, with the moderator broadcasting from Chicago:

Trump’s cowardice and refusal to consider the safety of the Biden campaign and the moderators is hardly surprising. There’s no word yet on whether or not the third debates will happen, but we’re not holding our breath.

(via NBC News, featured image: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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