Vice Presidential Debate: Mike Pence and Kamala Harris Oct 4, 2020 20:23:39 GMT
Post by Admin on Oct 4, 2020 20:23:39 GMT
The Commission on Presidential Debates has agreed to seat Kamala Harris and Mike Pence 12 feet apart at the vice presidential debate next week, after the Biden campaign raised health and safety objections to the original spacing between the two candidates because of Covid concerns.
As of Friday evening, however, the commission would not accede to the Biden campaign‘s request that Harris and Pence stand during the debate. Instead, the two will be seated, which was the preference of the Trump campaign, a source familiar with the discussions told POLITICO.
Negotiations had been underway before President Donald Trump announced early Friday that he had tested positive for Covid-19. But they became especially fraught throughout the day, after the Biden campaign and others who attended the Tuesday presidential debate in Cleveland were undergoing testing to make sure they hadn‘t been infected at the debate. Concerns heightened after 11 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Cleveland stemming from the debate, the city government disclosed on Friday.
The Biden campaign opposed original plans to position the candidates 7 feet apart, arguing that the two would not be spaced far enough apart to abide by medical guidelines. In light of Trump‘s diagnosis, the commission on Friday decided to move the chairs from 7 feet to 12 feet apart.
While social-distancing guidelines call for at least 6 six feet of space between individuals to avoid exposure to coronavirus, the Biden campaign argued that medical professionals recommend a greater distance of separation for individuals spending longer periods of time next to one another indoors. Pence and Harris are scheduled to face off Wednesday night for a 90-minute debate in Salt Lake City.
Harris, who went to Nevada on Friday, will travel to Utah and remain there until the debate, a Harris campaign official said Friday.
Biden campaign officials raised the candidate positioning as a "very serious concern," according to the source, who said the campaign also cited unease over the lack of mask-wearing enforcement during the presidential debate in Cleveland. The source said the commission and the Trump campaign had supported the 7-foot spacing.
Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, told POLITICO the campaign would work to find middle ground.
“We are open to more space between the candidates, which we will be happy to negotiate,” Murtaugh said.
Several members of the Trump family who were in the audience for the first debate did not wear masks even though they were supposed to do so inside the venue. When a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic approached the Trump family, offering them masks, they declined and no further action was taken.
Trump, first lady Melania Trump and senior aide Hope Hicks have since tested positive for the virus and are in quarantine. The positive tests came after Trump chided Biden during the debate for wearing a mask.