There is no scientific reason to do a virtual Presidential Debate.

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This morning, the Commission on Presidential Debates released a statement:

“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations. The town meeting participants and the moderator, Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks, will be located at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida. The White House Pool will provide coverage of the second presidential debate.”

This comes in response to President Trump testing positive for COVID-19 last week, and his subsequent hospitalization. As we all know, President Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the wee hours of Friday morning. From that moment, the subsequent debates were thrown into question.

Upon his release from the hospital on Monday, President Trump stated that he was feeling much better and ready to debate Joe Biden in Miami on October 15th as scheduled.

The news was met with little shock from most, but certainly not without controversy. Many pointed out some salient points:

  1. The CDC states that when someone catches COVID-19, they must self-isolate for a period of 14 days. President Trump was diagnosed with COVID on October 1. Given that timeline, a debate on October 15th would be exactly the day on which President Trump would be authorized to leave quarantine.
  2. If both President Trump wore masks and podiums were moved far apart – 12 feet like in the Vice Presidential debate, or even more, there would be nearly no risk of transmission. The CDC recommends a social distance of 6 feet. This is easily achievable.
  3. Miami’s climate offers a perfect opportunity for an outdoor presidential debate. Though logistically, perhaps a bit more difficult, there is no reason that a debate could not be held outdoors where transmission is much less opportune.

Despite these simple reforms that would comply with the CDC guidelines, so far the Presidential Debate Commission has not budged on their initial statement.

Upon hearing the news, President Trump told Maria Bartiromo that he would not be participating in any virtual debate saying he would not “waste his time” and accused the Commission of being in the tank for Joe Biden.

His campaign countered with an offer of pushing the debates back a week and having two debates still – one on October 22 and one on October 29. Biden’s campaign rebuffed this offer.

As of now, it is unclear what will happen with the debate.

Users on Twitter reacted to the news, mostly along party lines with Republicans supporting the decision to pull out of the debate, claiming Joe Biden would use a teleprompter and Democrats claiming Trump was trying to wiggle out of the debate and trending #ChickenTrump:

One thing we know for sure, this will certainly not be the last we hear of this debate controversy.


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