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As President Trump Says No To Virtual Debate, We Want To Know: What Do You Get Out Of Watching Live Political Debates?

The stage is set ahead of the vice presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall of the University of Utah.
The stage is set ahead of the vice presidential debate in Kingsbury Hall of the University of Utah.
ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images

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President Donald Trump said Thursday he would skip next week’s debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden after organizers said it would be held virtually because of health concerns, further disrupting the president’s efforts to shift focus away from a virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans this year.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates made the decision to shift to a virtual debate unilaterally, citing the need to “to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate.” Some staffers associated with producing the debate raised safety concerns after Trump tested positive for the virus following his first faceoff with Biden last week, according to a person familiar with the matter. But Trump, who is recovering from COVID-19 at the White House after spending three days in the hospital, insisted he’s in “great shape” and called the virtual debate a “joke.” Biden’s campaign said they were prepared to move forward. This raises a lot of questions about how potential debates will proceed.

Trading barbs through plexiglass shields, Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris met for the only vice presidential debate of 2020 Wednesday night, but both candidates steered away from direct questions from the moderator. It makes you wonder, what are viewers really getting out of watching or listening to these live debates?

Today on AirTalk we discuss the debates, but we also want to hear from listeners. What do you get out of the debates? Do you watch for style and composure? Do you actually learn about policy stances? We want to hear about it. Join the conversation by calling 866-893-5722. 

With files from the Associated Press


Annie Linskey, national political reporter focused on the 2020 presidential campaign for The Washington Post; she tweets @AnnieLinskey

Aaron Kall, director of debate at the University of Michigan; he tweets @AaronsUKBBBlog