Donald Trump has refused to take part in a second debate it if is held virtually in his first interview since contracting COVID-19 in which he also claimed he was not contagious.
Dialling in to speaking to Fox Business News, the US president described himself as a “perfect physical specimen” who could have left hospital after one day.
Mr Trump and opponent Joe Biden were set to square off in a town hall-style second debate in about one week but organisers unilaterally decided it would happen virtually due to the president’s diagnosis.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Mr Trump told Fox Business News, adding it would be easier for the moderator to cut him off.
“I’m not gonna waste my time on a virtual debate, that’s not what debating is all about. You sit behind a computer and do it, debates? Ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Mr Trump was hospitalised for three days and administered experimental treatment and oxygen but is now back at the White House after a short stint in hospital.
He has vowed to return to the campaign trail soon and talked up his health in his first interview since contracting COVID-19 a week ago, claiming “I don’t think I’m contagious at all”.
“I’m back because I am a perfect physical specimen and I’m extremely young. And so I’m lucky in that way,” Mr Trump said.
“I could’ve been out of the hospital in one day.”
The US presidential election is scheduled for November 3 and it appears the second debate could be October 22.
The Commission on Presidential Debates made the decision to host it virtually, citing the need “to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate”.
When Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris squared off for their only vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night, they shared a stage but were separated by plexiglass to prevent the spread of the virus.
Mr Trump’s campaign said the president would do a rally instead of the debate.
“For the swamp creatures at the Presidential Debate Commission to now rush to Joe Biden’s defence by unilaterally cancelling an in-person debate is pathetic,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement.
“The safety of all involved can easily be achieved without cancelling 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.”
Mr Trump is thought to be trailing in key battleground states.
Even before his COVID-19 diagnosis, he was widely criticised for his chaotic performance during last week’s first presidential debate in Cleveland.
It would not be the first debate in which the candidates were not in the same room.
In 1960, the third presidential debate between Richard Nixon and John F Kennedy was broadcast with the two candidates on opposite coasts.