A Zoom Debate?

Image Courtesy of CNN

By Chris Carey

Much to the nation’s surprise, the name calling, decorum breaching, Saturday Night Live parodied match-up between President Donald Trump and Joseph Biden would be the least surprising event that week. The campaigns saw their first “October Surprise” as Trump, along with a significant number of individuals in his inner circle, contracted the coronavirus ravaging the nation.

Along with the more mainstream worries of presidential succession, the President’s health, and the future of the Executive Branch, many individuals began to question the safety of a second in-person debate between the two septuagenarians, originally slated for Thursday, October 15. 

On Thursday, October 8, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the second debate would be held in an online format due to concerns about transmission of the virus from the President, as well as the uncertainty surrounding who might have the virus in the Trump Administration.

Mere hours after this announcement, in a Fox Business interview with Maria Bartiromo, the President said, “I’m not going to do a virtual debate…no, I’m not going to waste my time with a virtual debate.”

This rejection of the Commission’s prudence in moving to an online platform signified the cancellation of the second debate. This prompted the Biden campaign to schedule a Town Hall event hosted by ABC’s George Stephanoupolus during the same time slot of the scheduled presidential debate.

Upon hearing this, the Trump campaign released a statement, stating, “we agree that this should happen on October 22, and accordingly, the third debate should then be shifted back one week to October 29,” thus delaying the second and third debates one week.

Quick to respond, Biden’s camp lashed out with its own rejection of the Trump-proposed debate timeline, saying, “Donald Trump can show up, or he can decline again. That’s his choice.”

That same statement also pointed out that the October 22 debate would be tied for the latest debate in the past 40 years of presidential debate history. It said, “Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing.”

Once again, in response to the Biden refusal to bend to Trump’s will, the President’s campaign team announced that a rally would be held at the same time as the scheduled debate.

Finally, the cancellation of the originally planned debate has yielded a dual town hall from different locations, allowing for the debate to almost still take place. Trump will be on NBC at 8:00 p.m. ET, whereas Biden, as previously mentioned, will be on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET. Unfortunately, this means that anyone without a DVR on the television, two screens, or a pair of laptops will be unable to watch both candidates make their pleas to the nation as the campaigns wind down and voting begins.

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