South Beach by Tuan Nguyen on Unsplash

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The University of Michigan will no longer host one of three currently planned presidential debates after considering state public health guidelines and expert advice. Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center will now host the October 15 debate, less than 3 weeks before the general election. University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel noted that due to preparations to safely reopen the school in the fall, hosting the debate was not “feasible” for the school. Officials determined that the amount of media, campaign officials, and supporters present would create a high risk of infection. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez indicated that the debate being held in Florida “highlights the importance of Miami and the state of Florida in terms of who the next President of the United States is going to be.”

President Donald Trump recently challenged Joe Biden to a fourth debate unsanctioned by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a move historically floated by candidates behind in the polls. Biden’s campaign said Monday that he will only participate in three previously planned debates this fall and called for the commission to detail how it will hold in-person debates amid the pandemic. “Nothing should prevent the conduct of debates between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on these dates,” Biden’s campaign said in a written statement. “Again, we do not want to provide President Trump with excuses for not debating.”

The October debate is the second major election event this cycle that has moved to Florida from its original location. In May, the Trump campaign threatened to move the Republican National Convention from North Carolina if the governor would not commit to “full attendance.” The campaign then followed through on that threat when Gov. Roy Cooper refused to make that promise, moving the convention to Jacksonville, Florida. Nearly half of Jacksonville voters said they did not support holding the convention in their city.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

University of Michigan confirms it won’t host presidential debate. Here’s why – Detroit Free Press – 6/23/2020
The uncertainty surrounding the fall semester, including ongoing COVID-19 concerns, led the University of Michigan to withdraw from hosting a presidential debate in October. […] On Monday, the university announced it would resume face-to-face instruction in the fall, but said many classes would remain online or be some sort of hybrid. Schlissel said the university was planning a “public health informed” semester.

Trump-Biden debate relocates to Miami as University of Michigan frets about COVID-19 – Miami Herald – 6/23/2020
The county-owned venue — which remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic — confirmed Tuesday morning that it will host the debate, expected to be the second between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. […] “We are honored to have the opportunity to represent Miami on the global stage and to play a small role in the democratic process,” said Johann Zietsman, president of the non-profit Arsht Center, which runs the complex.

Miami Mayor: Presidential Debate May Be Without Audience – Newsmax – 6/23/2020
Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County have been on the rise since it joined the state’s Phase 2 partial reopening on June 5. However, Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla was more optimistic about the debate, saying it could be done “carefully” with proper safety protocols. “We need to return to normalcy and presidential politics is no exception,” Diaz de la Portilla said.

Miami mayor says presidential debate may not have audience – Politico – 6/23/2020
“Right now, we are not in Phase 3 so I can’t see it today being hosted with people in the audience. Impossible to predict where we will be on October 15,” Suarez said in a text message to POLITICO. “It’s possible that we may already be in Phase 3 by then, and it’s also possible that the debate can be held without people in the audience.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Dr. Mark Schlissel on Twitter, 6/23/2020: It is with disappointment that I share @UMich will no longer serve as a 2020 Presidential debate host site. We look forward to continuing to provide programming that supports civic engagement & the spirit of democracy on campus & in our community this fall

Ford O’Connell on Twitter, 6/23/2020: This is just BS – they are literally rigging the system for Biden. Not only do Dems & Biden allies not want Biden to ever leave his “bunker” or even talk for that matter; but they also want to keep Trump from the campaign trail.

Prof Dynarski on Twitter, 6/23/2020: University of Michigan will NOT be hosting its planned presidential debate bc pandemic DEEP HAPPY SIGH OF RELIEF

David Smiley on Twitter, 6/23/2020: The debate is the latest political event to relocate from states concerns about hosting large gatherings to Florida, a state that, well…

Sarah Reese Jones on Twitter, 6/23/2020: Behold, real leadership based on science: “in consideration of the public health guidelines in our state as well as advice from our own experts — we feel it is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned,” @politicususa

Patricia Mazzei on Twitter, 6/23/2020: Miami’s Arsht center, now set to host the Oct. 15 presidential debate, submitted its safe reopening plan to the county on Monday night. @MayorGimenez says it is “missing some of the required elements” and a revised plan will need to be submitted.

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