Biden says he'll debate Trump next week if it's deemed safe

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Joe Biden on Monday said he is open next week to debating President Trump, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week and was hospitalized over the weekend — if it is deemed safe to do so.

“If the scientists say that it’s safe and the distances are safe, then I think that’s fine,” Biden told reporters before boarding his plane to campaign in Florida. “I’ll do whatever the experts say is the appropriate thing to do.”

Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh said Monday that Mr. Trump intends to debate on October 15.

But the president’s health may require the debate to be rescheduled or canceled. The White House has said Mr. Trump first tested positive for COVID-19 on October 1, two days after the last debate. His physician, Dr. Sean Conley, said Monday that Mr. Trump is being monitored for when he no longer has the “live virus” and will be infectious.

“Routinely we talk about a 10-day window, you know CDC guidelines, but we’re checking him more routinely than just waiting 10 days,” Conley said. “There’s a possibility it’s earlier than that. There’s a chance that it’s a little bit later, but we will know as soon as possible. And then, we will look at him clinically, how are you feeling, how are you doing?”

Asked about Mr. Trump’s motorcade trip on Sunday evening to wave at supporters gathered outside of Walter Reed hospital in Maryland, Biden replied, “I’m reluctant to comment on the president’s health, what he’s doing or not doing. I’ll leave that to the doctors.” 

At one point during the brief Q & A between Biden and his limited traveling press corps, his wife, Jill Biden, grabbed Biden’s shoulders and physically moved him farther away from the reporters.  

“I’m sorry,” Biden said.

On Monday, Biden is making his second in-person trip to Florida during the general election, focusing this trip in the Miami area. The state is seen as one of the most competitive battlegrounds this election.  

The CBS News Battleground Tracker poll estimates Biden has a slight lead over Mr. Trump in the state, 50 to 48, well within the margin of error.

Nicole Sganga contributed to this report.

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