Dem debate moves to D.C. over virus concerns

Associated Press

Washington — The much-anticipated Democratic presidential debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders is moving Sunday’s presidential debate from Arizona to Washington because of concerns about the coronavirus.

The party had already announced that the debate would be held without a live audience. Now the location is also changing over concerns about cross-country travel.

In addition, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos no longer will moderate the debate because he was in proximity to a person who was in direct contact with another individual who tested positive for the virus. The DNC says Ramos is not symptomatic.

From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Vice President Joe Biden participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The coronavirus has already disrupted other aspects of the presidential campaign, with the Democratic contenders and President Donald Trump canceling rallies on the advice of public health officials who have cautioned against people attending large events.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

Sanders is 78, while Biden is 77. The president is 73.

Biden has taken command of the Democratic race after lopsided victories on Super Tuesday and in Michigan and other states this week.

The former vice president has struck a conciliatory note toward Sanders and his army of progressive supporters, thanking them for their “enthusiasm” and vowing to unite Democrats to beat Trump.

Sanders is resisting calls to quit the race and is instead vowing to use the debate to vigorously confront Biden over their policy differences. But he has dropped most of his bellicose rhetoric and repeatedly called Biden “my friend Joe” during a speech in Vermont Wednesday.

Democrats believe the coronavirus crisis has given Biden a rare opportunity to showcase his presidential leadership skills. Even Sanders concedes that Democratic voters have largely decided that the former vice president has the best chance of beating Trump in November.

Trump is facing widespread criticism of his handling of the pandemic, especially his insistence that it will soon “go away.”

The president has continued his trademark political grandstanding as the virus inflicts widespread economic pain and social dislocation.

New York Daily News contributed.