The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) had announced the dates and the sites of the planned 2020 debates as early as October 11, 2019, and Cleveland was on top of the list for fall debates and is slated for September 19, 2020. But the pandemic affected planning, and due to the lockdown, the first two debates at the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame were canceled when hosts pulled out. Cleveland thus becomes the first site for the presidential debates.
However, despite the debates attracting the attention of millions around the world, the city of Cleveland is not too happy about hosting the debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Tackling the Covid-19 crisis is an important priority for now. While Mayor Frank Jackson released a statement that the city was informed well in advance, the administration did not play any role in planning and organizing.
The full statement –
The debate will be hosted by the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) and the Eric Samson Pavilion, which is part of the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Education Campus.
Televised presidential debates are a big thing, and the fall campaign is expected to generate an audience of millions. With candidates facing each other on a single stage just a month before the elections, the stakes are very high. Debates often boil down to a bland scripted exercise like a joint press conference, but at other times, it reveals a candidate’s quick and analytical reasoning in crucial areas like the economy and foreign affairs.
Regardless of the guaranteed millions of eyeballs for Cleveland during the debate, Jackson’s statement does not have a happy ring to it. This is because the Covid-19 pandemic has played havoc, and the city is facing an acute cash crunch due to dwindling revenues.
Security provided by the city police will drive up overtime costs, wearing masks and social distancing norms have to be enforced at the venue if the city is to avoid a surge in fresh coronavirus cases and a large gathering will inevitably lead to new health problems.