Citing concerns over COVID-19, the Democratic party, in agreement with media partners CNN and Univision, has decided not to include a live audience at Sunday night’s Democratic presidential debate.
The Democratic National Committee’s decision to eliminate the Arizona debate audience came at the request of the campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former vp Joe Biden, as health officials urged people to avoid large gatherings and major events continued to be canceled for the foreseeable future.
“DNC has been in regular communication with local health officials and the Mayor’s office, which advised that we could proceed as planned,” DNC comms director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement. “Nevertheless, our number one priority has and will continue to be the safety of our staff, campaigns, Arizonans and all those involved in the debate. We will continue to remain in daily contact with all stakeholders through Sunday.”
CNN officials concurred with the decision and noted that there would also be no press filing center or spin room at the Arizona debate.
Statement on attendance/coverage of CNN’s March 15th Democratic Presidential debate in Phoenix, AZ: pic.twitter.com/nRYzyfurOQ
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) March 10, 2020
Both campaigns also canceled events in Ohio this evening following Republican Gov. Mike DeWine urging large gatherings be canceled and sporting events be held without fans.
The CNN-Univision Democratic debate will still air as planned on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, live on CNN, CNN en Español, CNN International, and Univision. The debate will also stream live in its entirety, without requiring log-in to a cable provider, on CNN.com’s homepage, across mobile devices via CNN’s apps for iOS and Android, and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV, as well as Univision’s digital properties.
The moderators for debate No. 11 of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary cycle are CNN’s Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, along with Univision’s Jorge Ramos.
Ilia Calderón, Ramos’ co-anchor on Univision’s evening newscast, was set to facilitate audience questions at the event. With the audience component now eliminated, we’ll find out if she’ll still be a participant in some other capacity.