In the ever-changing schedule for 2020 presidential debates and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday’s debate has been scrapped— but President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden are participating this evening in their own town halls on different networks.
“It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD (Commission on Presidential Debates) will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22,” the commission said in a statement late last week.
“On October 8, CPD announced that for the health and safety of all involved, the second presidential debate, scheduled for October 15 in Miami, would be conducted virtually,” the commission stated. “Subsequently, the campaigns of the two candidates who qualified for participation in the debate made a series of statements concerning their respective positions regarding their willingness to participate in a virtual debate on October 15, and each now has announced alternate plans for that date.”
That led to what the media is calling “dueling” town halls on different networks and backlash on how the situation has played out. Both town halls will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern, with Biden in Philadelphia on ABC and Trump on NBC from Miami.
But the Associated Press reported that “Biden will have the last word. The ABC event, moderated by George Stephanopoulos, will last 90 minutes with an additional half hour of analysis. Trump’s town hall on NBC is scheduled for an hour.”
That’s the schedule, but stay tuned — who knows what may happen next.
The debate season has been a particularly choppy one.
The University of Notre Dame was scheduled to host the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, but the private Catholic university in Indiana bowed out because of health issues.
Cleveland became the new venue for the first presidential debate, co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, according to the Commission.
That debate turned into an unprecedented, raucous event between Trump and Biden.
The switch for the first debate came closely after a change in venue for the second presidential debate.
In late June, the University of Michigan withdrew from hosting the second presidential debate on Oct. 15, with the university president saying that it could not safely host the debate.
That led Florida to host the venue for the second debate in Miami, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. But that debate isn’t happening, leading to the dual town halls on Thursday.
The final presidential debate is scheduled Oct. 22 at Belmont University, a private Christian university in Nashville, Tennessee.
It will be divided into six 15-minute segments, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The commission stated: “The topics for the six segments will be selected and announced by the moderator at least one week before the debate. Kristen Welker of NBC News will serve as moderator for the debate. Both candidates have agreed to participate in the October 22 debate.”