Donald Trump and Joe Biden debate cancelled after attempt to go online fails

A plan to hold the debate virtually fell apart

The second US presidential campaign debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has been cancelled, after efforts to host a virtual face-off failed.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) confirmed the cancellation, saying that both sides had pressed ahead with planning alternative events for October 15 showdown.

The decision was made a day after the non-partisan commission announced the debate would take place “virtually” because Mr Trump had contracted coronavirus.

"It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22," the commission said on Friday.

The debates are a key part of the US presidential campaign and give voters the rare chance to see both candidates together.

The first debate was characterised by insults and interruptions, and the second debate had been moved online, a move Mr Trump had bitterly opposed.

Trump’s team asked again to hold the debates, in person as scheduled, once the president’s doctor said he would be cleared to hold public events beginning on Saturday.

But the commission said it would not reverse its decision not to have the candidates on stage together, citing an abundance of caution with health concerns.

They said they were particularly concerned by the town-hall-style format for the debate, which is a more intimate setting that the usual debate stage, and has questions from ordinary voters.

In the first debate, Mr Trump opted for an aggressive approach, and ended up interrupting Mr Biden more than 50 times, smearing his family and failing to condemn white supremacists.

Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, called Mr Trump “a clown”, “a liar”, “racist” and “Putin’s puppy” – and repeatedly asked him to “shut up”.

After the virtual debate announcement was made, Mr Trump said: “No, I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate … That’s not what debating’s about."

On Wednesday, the only vice presidential debate of the campaign was held between incumbent Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris.