NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

DNC makes drastic changes to March 15th presidential debate due to COVID-19 fears

In the wake of COVID-19’s dra­mat­ic spread across the Unit­ed States, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee announced on Tues­day that the eleventh Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate – sched­uled to be held on the evening of Sun­day 15th March – will be moved from Phoenix, Ari­zona, to CNN’s stu­dio in Wash­ing­ton D.C.

This comes after a pre­vi­ous deci­sion to host the debate with no audi­ence, to pre­vent the risk of infec­tion that comes with such a large crowd.

The DNC’s deci­sions were made out of “an abun­dance of cau­tion,” accord­ing to Xochitl Hino­josa, the DNC’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, who empha­sized the health risks that would come from mak­ing the can­di­dates, their cam­paign teams, the CNN mod­er­a­tors and atten­dees trav­el across the coun­try to get to Ari­zona.

The net­works host­ing the debate, CNN and Uni­vi­sion, have already had a scare in con­nec­tion to the coro­n­avirus. Accord­ing to Hino­josa, Univision’s anchor Jorge Ramos was recent­ly exposed to some­body with the virus.

Ramos had been set to mod­er­ate the debate, but has stepped back from the role (he will be replaced by Ilia Calderón). While he has dis­played no symp­toms of the infec­tion, he clear­ly did not want to risk the pos­si­bil­i­ty that he might acci­den­tal­ly expose for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden and Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders to the virus.

The changes made to the debate for­mat reflect the wide­spread impact that the spread of COVID-19 has had on the 2020 elec­tion.

Both Sanders and Biden have been forced to can­cel mul­ti­ple cam­paign events, due to the risks asso­ci­at­ed with large crowds.

This real­i­ty is like­ly to fur­ther dam­age Bernie Sanders’ strug­gling cam­paign, which relies heav­i­ly on such events to gal­va­nize his sup­port­ers’ enthu­si­asm.

In con­trast to the Democ­rats, Repub­li­cans’ response to the coro­n­avirus cri­sis mir­rors that of the Trump regime’s: incom­pe­tence, mixed with out­right denial.

To give just one exam­ple, a large num­ber of the regime’s coro­n­avirus task force mem­bers (includ­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence) attend­ed the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC) at the end of Feb­ru­ary, where they down­played the threat of the dis­ease while min­gling with thou­sands of atten­dees from across the Unit­ed States. Pre­dictably, the event led to an out­break of the coro­n­avirus.

Even recent­ly, with the threat of COVID-19 now impos­si­ble to ignore, the reac­tion of Don­ald Trump’s re-elec­­tion cam­paign is notably less coher­ent than those of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates. As Biden and Sanders and their staffs were can­cel­ing events out of con­cern for atten­dees’ health, the Trump cam­paign announced a ral­ly in Wis­con­sin, only to pull the plug on it a day lat­er.

COVID-19 is now spread­ing across the globe in a way not seen since the Span­ish flu epi­dem­ic a cen­tu­ry ago. There is no end in sight to the pan­dem­ic, and with the out­break already wreak­ing hav­oc in the elec­toral process of coun­tries as far apart as the Unit­ed King­dom and South Korea, Amer­i­cans have one more rea­son to expect 2020 to be an elec­tion like no oth­er in liv­ing mem­o­ry.

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