2020 election debate: no handshake for Biden, Trump as first presidential confrontation adapts to Covid-19

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Peter Eyre, senior adviser to the Commission on Presidential Debates, said the candidates would not be shaking hands with moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News either. Once on stage in Cleveland, Ohio, the three men will not wear masks.

Audience size will be limited compared to previous debates, and all who attend the debate at Case Western Reserve University will be tested for Covid-19 and follow other health safety protocols.

Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the Presidential Debates Commission, which is leading the event, told CNN that the average in-person audience for a debate is around 900, with up to 1,200 depending on location. But for this debate, he estimated that 60 to 70 spectators would be seated in the debate room on Tuesday evening.

First Lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump will both be present at the debate, a White House official confirmed to CNN.

As they prepare to face off for the first time, Biden and Trump will each climb podiums on stage – the president on the right side of the stage looking at the audience and the former vice president on the left. Wallace will be sitting at a desk facing the two candidates.

Candidates will not have opening statements and Trump will receive the first question from the moderator. The 90-minute debate will focus on six topics – “The Trump and Biden Archives”, “The Supreme Court”, “Covid-19”, “The Economy”, “Race and Violence in Our Cities” and “L integrity of the election. “

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Another sign of the impact of Covid-19 on the debate – there will be no media ‘spin room’ where campaigns typically send supporters and representatives to defend their candidates after the debate.

Two of the planned presidential debates have already been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic this summer. The University of Notre Dame was originally scheduled to host the first presidential debate, but the school withdrew from the organization in July due to coronavirus concerns, prompting the debate to be moved to Case University. Western Reserve.

The second presidential debate was originally scheduled to take place at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, but the school also backed down with the October 15 debate transferred to Miami.

Kate Bennett of CNN contributed to this report.

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