Democratic debate moved to D.C. as the party deems travel to Phoenix too risky

Coronavirus scare is canceling cross-country travel for the Democratic debate.

Citing an abundance of caution, the Democratic party has now decided the Joe BidenBernie Sanders debate planned for Phoenix will be held in Washington D.C. instead.

The Democratic National Party had already canceled the audience for Sunday night’s debate out of concerns for the coronavirus outbreak, so the next move, to bring the whole thing to the CNN studio in Washington, was an easy decision.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in order to reduce cross-country travel, all parties have decided that the best path forward is to hold Sunday’s debate at CNN’s studio in Washington, D.C., with no live audience,” the party announced Thursday afternoon.

It’s the latest in a growing list of concessions politicians are making to reduce risks associated with campaigning as the coronavirus spreads. Both Biden and Sanders have canceled public rallies this week.

Yet the movement of the debate from a controlled-access venue in Phoenix to a controlled-access venue in Washington speaks to increased concern campaigns may be raising about cross-country travel, a staple of a national campaign.

The debate is two days before Florida’s and Arizona’s presidential primaries.

There also was another revelation Thursday impacting Sunday night’s debate. Democrats announced that CNN an Univision recently learned that Univision anchor and debate moderator Jorge Ramos was in close proximity “with someone who was in direct contact with a person that tested positive for coronavirus.” Ramos has stepped away from participation in the debate and has been replaced by Univision’s News Anchor Ilia Calderónas as a moderator.

Ramos and the other person are symptom free, the DNC said.

Officials continue to assuage fears about the virus noting that most healthy people can weather the illness with only minor to moderate effects. Those at greater risk are elderly individuals and those with underlying health conditions. Biden is 77 years old; Sanders 78.

Sunday’s will be the 11th that the Democrats have held in the 2020 cycle, the fourth debate involving CNN and the second involving Univision.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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