Earlier this week it was announced that the next Democratic presidential candidate debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders scheduled for Arizona on Sunday, March 15 would no longer include a live audience, a press filing center, or a spin room thanks to concerns about coronavirus infections spreading. This probably reduced any sense of local ownership of the event and made media coverage dependent on the tube or streaming video just like it did for the general public.
It was a small leap in logic, then, to relocate the whole show from Arizona to Washington, D.C., where one of the two debaters, Bernie Sanders, is at work in the Senate this week. The Democratic National Committee announced that CNN, which is cosponsoring the debate with Univision, would now also host the event in its Washington studios:
“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,” DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement.
There’s another coronavirus wrinkle in the debate preparations, however:
Univision’s Jorge Ramos was possibly exposed to coronavirus. While he is not exhibiting any symptoms, he has has stepped down from his role as one of the moderators for the debate, the DNC said. The network’s Ilia Calderón will take his place, alongside CNN’s Dana Bash and Jake Tapper. The debate is still set to take place 8 to 10 p.m. ET Sunday.
“Both Mr. Ramos and the person he was in contact with are in good health and symptom free,” Hinojosa said. “Despite being cleared by medical professionals and out of an abundance of caution, Jorge has decided to step aside from participating in the upcoming March 15 Democratic debate.”
Ramos, a Spanish-language media celebrity, is renowned as a tough questioner.
The Biden-Sanders debate will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET Sunday, and is the last currently on the schedule, though the DNC has tentatively planned one more, with the date and location yet to be determined.