Next Presidential Debate Changed to Virtual…If It Happens
It took 60 years, but there will once again be a virtual presidential debate, if it happens…
The next debate between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. is to be held virtually, rather than in person, because of health concerns about the coronavirus, the Commission on Presidential Debates said on Thursday.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden had been scheduled to debate on the same stage in Miami on Oct. 15, but the commission is now preparing for the candidates and moderators to appear remotely.
“The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the commission said in a statement, citing “the health and safety of all involved.”
It was not immediately clear if the Trump campaign would agree to a virtual meeting of the candidates or if Mr. Trump, who tested positive last week for the coronavirus, would participate.
A virtual debate might seem like a technological marvel of the Zoom-heavy pandemic era, but there is a precedent dating back 60 years to the dawn of mass media campaigns.
In 1960, the third debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was held remotely. Kennedy debated from a television studio in New York; Nixon appeared from Los Angeles.
A split-screen camera feed allowed viewers to watch both candidates simultaneously, with the men filmed on a pair of identical sets. The moderator of that debate, Bill Shadel of ABC News, conducted the proceedings from a third studio in Chicago.
How to safely stage a pair of indoor, in-person debates between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump has been the subject of intense conversations among board members of the debate commission in recent days.
The second Biden-Trump debate was originally scheduled for Oct. 15
It took about 10 minutes for the president to object:
President Donald Trump said he won’t participate in the second scheduled debate with Joe Biden after the organizing group said it would be held remotely…Trump returned to the Oval Office Wednesday for the first time since getting back to the White House Monday evening after his hospitalization at Walter Reed. His doctor said he reported being free of Covid-19 symptoms for over 24 hours as of Wednesday.
Trump said it was “not acceptable” to do the second presidential debate with Biden remotely, and he won’t participate.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said in a live interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business.
We will see if president’s vow holds up, or if it is part of his usual negotiating pattern of declaring something out right before it modifies several times and then occurs. Stay Tuned.
BTW, if your wondering what that 1960 debate looked like, here you go: