Second US presidential debate will be done remotely via live-streamed video (Update: Trump says he won’t participate)

The next U.S. presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic candidate and former VP Joe Biden will be done remotely, the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced today. This follows an intense news cycle that came immediately after the first presidential debate, which saw Trump and a large number of his White House inner circle diagnosed with COVID-19. This debate will be held as a “town meeting,” as planned, the CPD said via a statement today, with each candidate piped in from a separate location, and C-SPAN moderator Steve Scully also located separately in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

This is a historic first for the presidential debate, though also something that’s not entirely unexpected, given the coronavirus pandemic and the recent diagnoses of Trump and his staff. Biden has since been tested and received negative results, indicating that he didn’t contract COVID-19 from the socially distanced first debate, but the added measures and precautions make sense in the wake of the president’s apparent super-spreader event. Last night’s VP debate took place in-person (Pence has tested negative for the virus at last check), but did include 12 feet of separation between the VP and Democrat Kamala Harris, as well as the use of plastic dividers.

No word yet on what specific technology will be used in this virtual debate, or what venues each of the candidates will be using for their respective video feeds. We’ll update this post when and if we learn more.

Following this announcement by the CPD, Trump said during a live interview on Fox News on Thursday morning that he would not participate if the event goes ahead as a virtual debate. We’ll update this as more info becomes available.