Notre Dame withdraws from hosting US presidential debate

The University of Notre Dame has withdrawn from hosting the first presidential debate of this year’s election, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has announced.

The CPD on Monday said instead the debate, scheduled on September 29, 2020, will be co-hosted by Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic at the Health Education Campus in Cleveland, Ohio, Xinhua reported.

The University of Notre Dame, a private Catholic research university in Notre Dame, Indiana, said in a statement that “the inevitable reduction in student attendance in the debate hall, volunteer opportunities and ancillary educational events undermined the primary benefit of hosting — to provide our students with a meaningful opportunity to engage in the American political process.”

This year, there will be three debates between sitting US President and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and former US Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

In addition to the Ohio debate, two others will be held in October, respectively in Miami, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee. The University of Michigan was scheduled to host the second presidential debate but withdrew last month.

A vice presidential debate between Trump’s deputy Mike Pence and whoever Biden chooses as his running mate will also be held in October.

All debates will be 90 minutes in length, according to the CPD, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has sponsored and produced all general election presidential debates since 1987.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 4.2 million Americans and killed more than 147,000 people in the US, has forced the presidential and other campaigns to go virtual due to health and safety risks.

The Republican and Democratic national conventions, both scheduled for August, where Trump and Biden will formally receive each party’s presidential nomination, will take place on a smaller scale.

The Democratic National Convention Committee on Monday released health protocols for its convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that require attendees going to the site to agree to daily coronavirus testing and wear masks inside the campus.