The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Gray, Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT) October 9, 2020
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8:47 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Trump says he doesn't believe he's contagious and wants to resume rallies

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Ben Tinker

President Donald Trump salutes Marine One helicopter pilots after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5.
President Donald Trump salutes Marine One helicopter pilots after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5. Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump says he doesn't believe he is contagious and, less than a week after testing positive for coronavirus, he is ready to resume campaign rallies. He says he is immune from another infection and attributed his recovery to being a "perfect physical specimen." 

In his first interview since returning from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump sounded raspy on the phone speaking with Fox Business.

But he insisted he is, in fact, better than normal and is prepared to resume his campaign schedule. 

"I think I’m better ... to a point where I’d love to do a rally tonight. I wanted to do one last night," Trump said. "I feel perfect. There’s nothing wrong."

However, for Trump to not be contagious it needs to have been at least 10 days, at a bare minimum, since his first symptoms, and he needs to be fever-free for 24 hours without taking medication that could reduce his fever. Trump should still be isolating, not campaigning, and while he may have some degree of protection, no one can say for certain whether he is immune.  

Calling his illness "almost a gift from heaven," Trump again praised the drugs he received at Walter Reed but said he couldn't have avoided contracting coronavirus.

"No matter how good the security you're not going to protect yourself from this thing," he said, adding later: "You catch this thing. It's particles of dust."

The virus is not "particles of dust."

Asked about criticism he was returning to the White House while still shedding the virus, Trump said he didn't believe that was true. However, from what the science tell us about the virus, it is almost certainly true that he is shedding virus.

"I don’t think I'm contagious, at all," he said.

8:44 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Biden campaign learned about virtual debate today

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny 

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the first presidential debate on September 29.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participates in the first presidential debate on September 29. Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Biden campaign also learned this morning about the commission’s announcement that the next debate will be virtual, a campaign adviser tells CNN, adding they did not know this in advance.

A virtual debate was always a possibility, particularly in the wake of Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, but a campaign adviser said the Biden team did not know about the virtual format of the debate until today. 

Earlier Thursday morning in a statement to the press, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien also said the decision to alter the format of the debate was made “unilaterally.”

8:32 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Trump campaign manager says debate commission is "unilaterally canceling an in-person debate"

From CNN’s Dan Merica

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside President Donald Trump as he speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One on August 28.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien stands alongside President Donald Trump as he speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One on August 28. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien slammed the Commission on Presidential Debates for saying it will make the next debate virtual. In a statement he accused the commission of "rushing to Joe Biden's defense'" and "unilaterally cancelling an in-person debate."

Read the full statement here:

“President Trump won the first debate despite a terrible and biased moderator in Chris Wallace, and everybody knows it. 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. Here are the facts: President Trump will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate, so there is no need for this unilateral declaration. The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without canceling a chance for voters to see both candidates go head to head. We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”

Stepien traveled to Cleveland with the President and his team last Tuesday for the first presidential debate. Along with the President, Stepien tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.

8:24 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Here's what Susan Page, VP debate moderator, says about last night

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Justin Sullivan/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Wednesday’s vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence was more polite than last week's Trump-Biden showdown and covered more topics. But both candidates often ignored the questions they were asked.

“I think the goal of the moderator is to try, in my view, ask a narrow question in the hope of getting an answer. That was often less successful than I’d hoped, and let the candidates take it over and debate among themselves. It is a debate among them that I was trying to facilitate,” said USA Today’s Susan Page, who moderated the debate.

Still, Page admits she was surprised at the level of non-answers.

“I thought if I asked a question about abortion, the response would be something about abortion, but that was not the case,” she said.

Since it was not an interview or a news conference, Page says she did not push for an answer.

Had it been a news conference or an interview, Page says she would have been “pretty aggressive in trying to follow up to press him on the question I asked,” but given the debate format, she changed her approach.

“In this case, I was really there just to help voters get some illumination about those candidates. And when they answered the questions I asked, I thought that was illuminating. And when they refused to answer the questions I asked, I thought that was also illuminating,” she said. “It's not about me. It wasn't even really about the campaigns. It was: What do voters need to see or hear to help them make their big decision in this coming week?”

Page was also more prepared to enforce rules after watching Chris Wallace moderate the first presidential debate.

“It made me a little more aggressive at the beginning. You know, I actually spoke longer than I ordinarily would have at the introduction, laying out exactly what the rules were that the two campaigns had agreed to.”

8:21 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Biden campaign says he will participate in the virtual debate

From CNN's Dan Merica 

Getty Images
Getty Images

Former vice president Joe Biden will participate on next week's virtual debate, deputy campaign manager and communications director to the Biden campaign Kate Bedingfield said in a statement this morning. 

Here's her full statement:

"Vice President Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together and building back better with Donald Trump's failed leadership on the coronavirus that has thrown the strong economy he inherited into the worst downturn since the Great Depression."
8:19 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

President Trump says he won't participate in a virtual debate

Julio Cortez/Patrick Semansky/AP
Julio Cortez/Patrick Semansky/AP

President Trump reacted to news that the Commission on Presidential Debates will make the next debate virtual, saying it's “not acceptable” and he would not participate.

“I learned that the commission a little while ago change the debate style. And then that's not acceptable to us,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox Business. “I’m not going to do a virtual debate.”

He added, “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. That’s not what debating is all about,” calling it “ridiculous.”

He lamented that the commission “didn’t even tell us about it.”

“They called up two minutes ago and it was announced,” Trump said of the commission, claiming that the nonpartisan group is “trying to protect Joe Biden.”

The decision to move the debate virtual came days after Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization. Trump said Thursday that he feels “perfect” and there’s “nothing wrong” and he’s ready to hold campaign rallies.

8:35 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

What did you think of last night's debate?

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris had their only debate of the 2020 election campaign last night, and we want to know what you thought about it.

Did either candidate make an impact on you? Send us your thoughts using the form below.

8:18 a.m. ET, October 8, 2020

Next week's debate will be held virtually

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

The empty stage of the first US Presidential debate is seen on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio.
The empty stage of the first US Presidential debate is seen on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images

The second presidential debate will be held virtually, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday morning in the wake of President Trump's positive test for coronavirus.

"The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations," the commission said in a statement.

"The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate."

The second debate is scheduled to be held on October 15. Trump tested positive for coronavirus last week.