No POTUS Debate This Week, But Biden & Trump Likely Facing Off If Incumbent Gets Negative COVID-19 Result

By Dominic Patten, Ted Johnson


Joe Biden and Donald Trump won’t be meeting up face-to-face on October 15 for another debate, but the candidates look likely to be dueling across the dial later this week, with one caveat.

Since last week when the second POTUS debate fell apart over coronavirus safety protocols, former Vice-President has had a primetime town hall scheduled on Thursday in Philadelphia with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. Never willing to cede precious primetime themselves, the poll sagging Trump campaign has been in talks with NBC News for its own solo outdoor event that same night to be hosted by Savannah Guthrie.

While nothing has been officially announced, those talks are now down to the 11th hour with the network reaching out to vendors in Florida, according to sources. However, as those necessary organizational wheels are in motion, a rather substantial stumbling block remains.

Having negotiated the right to determine the moderator, the questions and the format, NBC is insisting on getting a negative COVID-19 result for Trump before locking in the town hall

As of late Tuesday, 48 hours before the event is penciled into to start, the Comcast-owned net has still not received that test result from the White House, we hear. The last remarks on Trump’s health status was a note from presidential physician Dr. Sean Conley on Monday that his boss had tested negative for COVID-19 “on consecutive days.”

No deadline has been declared, but if NBC News doesn’t get their required new result from the previously infected incumbent by Wednesday afternoon, it seems certain the town hall will be called off.

At the White House, the attitude seems to be full steam ahead, even with no official announcement yet. A Trump campaign spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

A point that Vice-President Mike Pence alluded to today in an interview on SiriusXM Radio. “There’s plans underway to have a similar public town hall event Thursday night,” former radio host Pence told Julie Mason. “I think Joe Biden is doing the same but how much better would it be if they were both on the stage, both taking the tough questions from people like you,” the current Veep added.

If it occurs, the Trump town hall will take place in Miami in a manner and setting very similar to Biden’s October 5 town hall with Lester Holt.

To that end, the White House sent out a guidance earlier today that has the incumbent arriving in at Miami International Airport at 4: 20 PM ET on October 15. Earlier in the day, Trump will be campaigning in Greenville, NC and has events on the calendar in Ocala, FL and Macon, GA on October 16.

A coronavirus recovering Trump got the go ahead for “public engagements” from the much-criticized Dr. Conley on October 8. Two days later he held a campaign rally in all but name from White House and went out on the stump in Florida yesterday. Right now, both Biden and Trump are both on the campaign trail with the former Vice President in Florida and the latter in Pennsylvania.

The Commission on Presidential Debates scheduled a town hall debate for Oct. 15 months ago, but called it off last week after Trump rejected the commission’s switch to an all-virtual format. As Trump blasted the change in plans, Biden’s campaign scheduled their own town hall with ABC that same night.

At this point Biden and Trump are penciled in to have a final debate on October 22, which was the date originally set for their third meet-up.

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