It’s a smart message, even if there’s not much reason for Joe Biden to subject himself to another debate. With Donald Trump hospitalized for a COVID-19 infection, it’s not at all clear that he’ll be available for the next debate, which will take place ten days from today. If Trump has to isolate for a couple of weeks, then Biden’s off the hook for this decision.

If not, though, Biden’s campaign has committed him to show up for another bout with Trump after a universally panned first match-up. Why do it a second time, especially after Biden proved everything he needed to prove last week? For one thing, senior campaign adviser told CNN’s Jake Tapper on yesterday’s State of the Union, “Biden loves a good town hall”:

TAPPER: OK. The next presidential debate is scheduled for October 15. If, before that date, President Trump’s physician says that he’s recovered, he’s no longer contagious, would Joe Biden go forward with that debate, or would that not be enough assurance for you and your campaign?

SANDERS: Well, Jake, we are looking forward to the debate on October 15 in Miami. It’s a town hall. And, as you know, Vice President Biden loves a good town hall. And we’re hoping that President Trump can participate. We hope — we’re hoping that he’s medically able to participate. And, you know, that’s up to his doctors to clear him. But Joe Biden will be at that debate.

I suspect that it’s the format that appeals most to Biden, especially after last week’s debacle, but I’m not so sure it should. Biden succeeded in getting through the debate, and he also succeeded in avoiding any policy commitments, too. Remember Biden’s bon mot about court-packing? “Whatever the position I take on that,” Biden told Chris Wallace, “that will become the issue.” It might be easier to get that one past a sympathetic moderator — Wallace never bothered to press him on it, although Trump’s interruptions didn’t help — but would that work in a room full of voters who expect candidates to take positions on issues?

It’s going to be tougher for Biden to dance around policy issues like he did on Tuesday, even though that will certainly be his strategy. The more Biden avoids taking positions and making Trump the whole issue, the better off he’ll be. That will be easier to do in moderated debates rather than town halls, especially in the third matchup with NBC/MSNBC host Kristin Welker as the moderator.

The format poses a tough problem for Trump too, although it might offer one advantage. Having a live audience to read might keep Trump from going overboard on his interruptions and caustic remarks; Trump didn’t have that feedback loop on Tuesday. However, Trump will have to find a way to connect to the voters in a town-hall format better than Biden, who’s pretty good at emotional connections after fifty years in the business. Trump will have to focus on himself and his first-term performance more than attack Biden, which again might be a hidden benefit for Trump, but will he be able to stay disciplined in that effort? The first debate didn’t offer a lot of evidence of either discipline or preparation, and recovering from COVID-19 might not leave him a lot of time to develop either.

One has to wonder whether any of this will take place at all. Trump hopes to get released today, but it’s clear he has been significantly ill with this virus. It usually requires a couple of weeks to clear the virus, which means October 15 is a pretty ambitious date to plan for an audience-participation event in a closed studio. Team Biden must be betting that their all-in is a safe bet, and an easy lay-up.