With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the nation, Democrats announced Tuesday that the CNN-Univision Democratic presidential debate set for this weekend will be held without an audience.
The Democratic National Committee’s decision to forgo an audience came at the request of the campaigns of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, as health officials urged people to avoid large gatherings and major events continued to be canceled for the foreseeable future. Both campaigns canceled events in Ohio Tuesday night following Republican Gov. Mike DeWine urging large gatherings be canceled and sporting events be held without fans.
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“DNC has been in regular communication with local health officials and the Mayor’s office, which advised that we could proceed as planned,” DNC Communications 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 agreed with the decision and noted that there would also be no press filing center or spin room at the debate.
“CNN’s top priority is the safety of our employees and community members,” the network said in a statement. “This extends to guests planning to attend or cover our debate on March 15. At the request of the campaigns and out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to eliminate the debate live audience, the press filing center and spin room in Phoenix.”
The debate will air exclusively LIVE on CNN, CNN en Español, CNN International, and Univision at 8pm ET. The debate will 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 full debate will be available exclusively the day following the airing on demand via cable/satellite systems, on CNNgo (at CNN.com/go on your desktop, smartphone, and tablets, and via CNNgo OTT apps), and CNN mobile apps on iOS and Android.