Debate plans–first announced eight months ago–will now hinge in large part on CDC guidelines, as well as state and local health and safety protocols.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced the schedule and locations for the 2020 general election debates last October. Host venues originally had to meet criteria it set.
Presidential debates typically have thousands of journalists and hordes of staffers from each campaign onsite. This expected influx led the University of Michigan, the site selected for the second presidential debate on October 15, to withdraw from hosting last month.
The university had already invested $2.5 million to serve as host, with the final cost expected to reach approximately $5 million. The school had also been planning a schedule of events and activities around the debate.
The benefits of hosting a presidential debate are unparalleled for a university, generating media exposure, significant economic impact and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students. But that value will be diminished this year without a full campus and with health and safety restrictions limiting exposure opportunities for donors footing the bill.
The October 15 town hall style debate will now take place in Miami and is the second major presidential campaign event to move to Florida, where COVID-19 cases are spiking.