Washington, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday will face off in a one-on-one televised debate, both men vying for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, although the debate will be conducted without a live public audience due to the emergency situation created by the worldwide spread of the coronavirus.
The two men, one of whom presumably will go up against Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, have suspended their main campaign events and, in fact, the format for Sunday night’s debate – which was originally scheduled to be held before a live audience in Phoenix, Arizona – had to be modified and the event transferred to Washington DC because of the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus, which has killed about 60 people in the US so far and infected thousands.
The campaign teams of both Biden and Sanders have been working for several days from their homes, while the campaign events that have not been cancelled altogether are being organized via the Internet.
Although Louisiana and Georgia have announced the postponement of their primaries, still scheduled to hold their own primaries this coming Tuesday are Arizona, Illinois, Ohio and Florida, all of which are key baskets of Democratic delegates that Biden and Sanders are hoping to capture.
Biden is favored in the race for the Democratic nomination at this point, having garnered at least 890 delegates in the 20 or so primaries and state caucuses held so far, compared to Sanders’ 736 delegates, although neither man is yet close to the 1,991 delegates he would need to obtain the party’s presidential nomination.
Sunday night’s debate is seen as one of the last chances that Sanders may have to cut Biden’s lead, or perhaps overtake him, in the delegate count.
The two-hour debate, which will be broadcast on CNN and Univision, will commence at 8 pm.
The former vice president – who served for eight years in that post under President Barack Obama – represents the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, while Sanders, a democratic socialist, encompasses the aspirations of the more leftist segments of the party, and the two men thus head rival factions in a deeply divided party that must now decide between two “old white guys,” with both being over 70 years old, after the withdrawal of younger candidates of a wide variety of races, sexes and sexual orientations.
“Donald Trump must be defeated and I will do everything in my power to make that happen,” Sanders said in a brief speech in Burlington, Vermont, last Wednesday.
“On Sunday night, in the first one-on-one debate of this campaign, the American people will have the opportunity to see which candidate is best positioned to accomplish that goal,” he added.
Meanwhile, Biden is expected to fight hard to keep the Vermont senator from overtaking him in the delegate count, and – besides the issue of the coronavirus – the debate will in all likelihood include issues such as the danger to the country amid the current economic crisis, immigration policy, climate change, prison system reform, childhood poverty and reforming election campaign financing.
In addition to Biden and Sanders, there is one other candidate still in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hawaii Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard, 38 years of age and of Indian, Polynesian and white heritage but who has only obtained a couple of delegates in the primary in American Samoa and who – since she has only been tabulated to have the support of 3 percent of Democrats in recent voter surveys – falls below the established threshold for inclusion in Sunday night’s debate.