Decision 2020 update

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, President Trump gave his first televised interview since being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Speaking for nearly an hour, he downplayed his illness, attacked his rivals, and refused to participate in a virtual debate next week against Democratic rival Joe Biden.

That announcement set off a rapid-fire back-and-forth over the remaining head-to-head match-ups between the presidential candidates.

Joe Biden said he was open to a virtual debate but President Trump scoffed at the idea of what he called sitting behind a computer to debate, also noting the moderators could cut him off whenever they want.

The debate commission announced Thursday it was shifting to that format in the wake of the president’s COVID diagnosis.

Now, the two campaigns are debating over the debate schedule, with the Trump team proposing a one-week pause, pushing the final match-up to the end of the month.

Biden’s campaign said the president’s “erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar.”

In a freewheeling interview with Fox Business News, President Trump also downplayed his illness that required three nights in the hospital, two rounds of supplemental oxygen, and a combination of experimental drugs.

“I didn’t have to go in frankly,” he said. “I think would have gone away by itself.”

The president speculated on where he caught it, naming a Rose Garden ceremony for his Supreme Court nominee but also seeming to blame an event with families of fallen soldiers.

“They come within an inch of my face sometimes want to hug me, kiss me,” Trump said. “They do. And frankly, I am not telling them to back up.”

President Trump also called out and put public pressure on his Attorney General Bill Barr to pursue criminal charges against President Obama, Joe Biden and others he accuses of conspiring against him.

Finally, the president weighed in on Wednesday night’s debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, referring to the Democratic rival as a “communist” and a “monster.”

President Trump also said he wants to get back to holding rallies and that he didn’t think he was contagious, though he is still within the CDC’s window for isolation following the onset of symptoms.

It’s unclear how far along he is in the disease since the White House hasn’t said when he last tested negative before his diagnosis.

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