Debate in US Senate in South Carolina changes format after Lindsey Graham refuses to take Covid-19 test

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The two candidates will now “participate in one-on-one interviews … where they will be asked a series of questions by the forum moderator and panelists,” announced a live blog for the forum, which is hosted by local television station WSPA. . CNN has reached out to Nexstar Media Group and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the debate sponsors, for comment on the development.

The announcement comes after Harrison released a statement Thursday stating that he will not debate in person whether Graham – the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who attended an Oct. 1 hearing with Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from the ‘Utah which tested positive for the virus last week – has not had a Covid test.

In the statement, Harrison said he, the moderators and panelists had all agreed to get tested and questioned why Graham wouldn’t.

“If Senator Graham does not pass a coronavirus test, I cannot responsibly debate in person tomorrow night and allow politics to put my family, campaign staff, Senator Graham’s staff and members of the media at unnecessary risks, ”the statement said. .

Graham rejected the request, saying he had already tested negative and would abide by previously agreed safety rules.“It is his decision that Mr. Harrison attend tomorrow’s debate, not mine. I’ll be there, ”Graham said in a statement.

Graham, a three-term senator and staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, faces a close race with Harrison, who has raised a substantial amount during his campaign. Graham leads a charge to quickly confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Trump has announced he has chosen Barrett as his choice to replace Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September, in a ceremony at the Rose Garden late last month. Lee attended this event and was among at least 10 people who attended the event and who subsequently tested positive for the virus.

This event, along with an outbreak at the White House among aides and reporters covering the president, made the Executive Mansion one of the hotspots for Covid-19 in the nation’s capital. Trump is still recovering from his infection and returned to work in the West Wing this week.

The president’s diagnosis led to the cancellation of his second debate with former Vice President Joe Biden. The Presidential Debates Commission announced on Friday night that the debate would not take place after the president said he would not participate in a virtual debate with Biden and the Democratic candidate made other plans.

This story has been updated.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.

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