Coronavirus Concerns Shift Presidential Debate From Michigan To Florida

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Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump are currently set to debate three times.


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While Michigan was one of the first states to see a heavy wave of coronavirus infections, Florida’s cases have risen drastically in recent weeks, after the state became one of the first to open back up economic activity.

The debate’s Oct. 15 date will not change. As of right now, the other two face-to-face showdowns between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden remain unchanged: Sept. 29 at the University of Notre Dame, just outside South Bend, Ind.; and Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Vice President Pence is scheduled to debate Biden’s yet-to-be-decided running mate on Oct. 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

The venue shift comes as the Trump and Biden campaigns argue over how many debates to hold this fall.

Trump’s campaign recently challenged Biden to four face-to-face debates, rather than the three already announced and sanctioned by the commission. It’s the type of proposal traditionally floated by a candidate behind in the polls, though the Trump campaign is tying it to its attempts to make the 77-year-old Biden seem physically and mentally weak.

«It’s pretty obvious that Joe Biden’s handlers are afraid to send their candidate out without a script and teleprompter handy,» campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.

Trump is 74 years old.

Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon sent a letter to the commission Monday confirming Biden’s commitment to the original plan of three debates, plus an additional forum for the two vice presidential candidates.

«Now that Donald Trump is trailing badly in the polls, and is desperate to change the subject from his failed leadership of the country, we are seeing reports that he has his own proposal for debates — after having said, just six months ago, that he might not want to participate at all in planned debates. No one should be fooled: the Trump campaign’s new position is a debate distraction,» she wrote.

In the letter, O’Malley Dillon made it clear the Biden campaign, which has been far more careful about coronavirus precautions than the Trump campaign, thinks the debates can and should take place this fall.

«There is no reason why Vice President Biden and President Trump cannot meet for debates with appropriate safety and social distancing measures (set by public health authorities) on the three dates the CPD has identified,» she wrote.

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