The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana had been poised to play a significant role in the upcoming electoral battle between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
However, those plans have since changed, because on Monday, the Catholic university announced its decision to cancel an on-campus presidential debate planned for Sept. 29 due to coronavirus concerns, as NBC News reported.
“After consultation with Dr. Mark Fox, St. Joseph County deputy health officer, and with the unanimous support of the Executive Committee of the University’s Board of Trustees, Father [John] Jenkins made what he called ‘this difficult decision because the necessary health precautions would have greatly diminished the educational value of hosting the debate on our campus,'” a statement from the university read.
Jenkins concluded by declaring that “despite this decision, I hope we will all remain attuned to the many important issues facing our nation during this election year — and, please, let’s exercise our right and privilege to vote on Tuesday, November 3.”
Not the only one
Though surely a disappointing turn of events for many at Notre Dame, the school is not alone in its decision to withdraw from debate hosting duties.
The Detroit Free Press reported last month that the University of Michigan cancelled plans to hold the second presidential debate of the season on its Ann Arbor campus on Oct. 15.
As a result, the university also scuttled a number of ancillary educuational events that were to be built around the debate itself.
The prospect of upcoming presidential debates has been hot topic in the news recently, with some on the left arguing that Biden should simply refuse to participate unless certain preconditions are met.
Earlier this month, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman declared that the presumptive Democratic nominee shouldn’t show up to debate until President Trump releases his tax records and agrees to have a team of real-time fact-checkers present to oversee their exchanges.
According to Friedman, this contingent of supposed truth-tellers would serve to “report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered.”
Republicans have countered that the real motive for discouraging Biden from debating centers on the fact that his participation would likely reveal the cognitive mental decline from which many believe he is suffering.
Given that at various points during the campaign, Biden has forgotten where he is, appeared to refer to himself as his own husband, and told voters that he is running for the Senate, the desire among Democrats to keep him under wraps is understandable, though it is also entirely untenable.