Organizer Cancels Trump-Biden Debate Scheduled for Oct. 15

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Presidential Debates has scrapped the planned matchup next week between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, according to a person familiar with the matter, after the president said he wouldn’t participate in a virtual debate.

The organizing body had previously said it was changing the format for the planned second debate on Oct. 15 from an in-person town hall in Miami to a virtual meeting. The decision came after the president and several people in the White House tested positive for coronavirus.

The president said he would not join a virtual debate, and his campaign called for the two remaining debates to be moved back. Mr. Biden’s campaign, however, objected to changing the dates.

Officials earlier said Mr. Trump planned to hold his first in-person events since being treated for a coronavirus infection with a gathering on Saturday at the White House and a campaign rally Monday in Florida.

Mr. Trump was scheduled to deliver remarks on Saturday at 2 p.m. from the South Portico balcony at the White House, officials said.

A White House official said Mr. Trump planned to focus his remarks on law and order issues. Officials didn’t say who would be in attendance.

Guests in attendance for the event were being requested to bring a mask with them and would be instructed to wear it on the White House grounds, an official said. All attendees would be given a temperature check and a brief questionnaire about recent symptoms, the official said.

Mr. Trump said in a tweet Friday that he would “be in Sanford, Florida on Monday for a very BIG RALLY!” Officials have been also considering travel in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Trump said in a Fox News interview Thursday night that he might do a campaign rally in Florida Saturday and in Pennsylvania Sunday, but officials said he doesn’t plan to travel this weekend.

Mr. Trump hasn’t held a campaign rally since Minnesota on Sept. 30, when White House aide Hope Hicks fell ill. Ms. Hicks tested positive on the morning of Oct. 1 and Mr. Trump, after attending a fundraiser in New Jersey that afternoon, announced that night that he also tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr. Trump was hospitalized on Oct. 2, and spent three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He returned to the White House on Oct. 5, and has been looking to return to campaigning since his treatments for the coronavirus started.

Mr. Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, issued a statement Thursday evening saying that he anticipated Mr. Trump would be able to hold public events again by Saturday.

“Overall he’s responded extremely well to treatment, without evidence on examination of adverse therapeutic effects,” Dr. Conley wrote, adding that, “Saturday will be day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis, and based on the trajectory of advanced diagnostics the team has been conducting, I fully anticipate the president’s safe return to public engagement at that time.”

The White House has declined to answer several questions about Mr. Trump’s condition and treatment, including when he last got a negative test before testing positive Oct. 1 and whether he is being tested regularly since his diagnosis.

President Trump’s schedule in the week before he was diagnosed with Covid-19 included a Rose Garden event, a presidential debate, and visits to three states. Photo: Getty Images

Write to Michael C. Bender at [email protected]

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