The vice presidential debate shouldn’t be happening. Not in person, anyway.
Since the White House Rose Garden event commemorating President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court late last month, Vice President Pence has been exposed to an untold number of Covid-positive individuals, both inside and outside the the administration. Centers for Disease Control guidelines hold that he should be under quarantine, but he’s used a series of negative test results to rationalize his participation in Wednesday night’s debate. The vice president “has remained healthy, without any Covid-19 symptoms,” his physician wrote on Tuesday.
But test results are not always accurate, and certainly not a legitimate reason to break quarantine. White House Adviser Stephen Miller tested positive Tuesday night despite “working remotely and self-isolating” for the past five days and “testing negative every day through yesterday.” Pence is just as likely to be infected, and yet he’s determined to potentially expose everyone in the room on Wednesday. His team even objected to the idea of erecting modest plexiglass shields to separate the candidates before finally relenting late Tuesday night.
Covid-19 will undoubtedly dominate the evening’s discourse, and it will be up to Harris to illustrate just how irresponsible the White House has been as it continues to downplay the severity of the virus that has now infected over 7.5 million Americans, including a growing number of White House staff and administration officials who have come into contact with the president.
Here’s everything you need to know:
How to Watch the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate?
The lone vice presidential debate will take place on Wednesday, October 7th at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. It will begin at 9 p.m. ET and run for 90 minutes with no commercial breaks.
You’d be hard-pressed to avoid it if you tried. The debate will be broadcast live on the major networks, as well as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, and Univision. Several networks and outlets are streaming the debate online. You can get a free trial to a live streaming service like Vidgo or Sling TV, which both carry a number of news networks for instant access to the debate (and post-debate coverage). The C-SPAN YouTube page is always a good option too.
What Is the Format of the Vice Presidential Debate?
The debate will be broken down into nine segments, each lasting 10 minutes. Though Chris Wallace disclosed the topics of the first presidential debate ahead of time, moderator Susan Page of USA Today has not done so.
Both candidates will be seated for the duration of the debate. They were originally slated to be seated seven feet from each other, but following Trump’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis last week, the distance between them was extended to just over 12 feet. The candidates will not shake hands or greet each other, and both will be tested for Covid-19 before taking the stage.
Here’s a look at the setup:
Good morning from inside the site of tonight’s Pence-Harris vice presidential debate. pic.twitter.com/MIKbhO4u8w
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) October 7, 2020
When Is the Next Presidential Debate?
The second presidential debate will take place on Thursday, October 15th, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, in Miami, Florida. It will be moderated by Steve Scully of C-SPAN and formatted as a town hall, with candidates fielding questions from non-committed voters. Despite Trump’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis, his campaign has said he intends to participate as planned.
The third and final presidential debate is scheduled to take place the following week, on Thursday, October 22nd, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. It will be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News and formatted identically to the first debate.
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