Phoenix presidential debate canceled, moved to Washington, D.C., as coronavirus precaution

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden talk after the South Carolina debate. / Getty Images

By Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Arizona Republic 

Coronavirus fears have prompted organizers of the Democratic debate in Phoenix to cancel the planned head-to-head event in Arizona, and will instead hold it at a studio in Washington, D.C., Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., told The Arizona Republic on Thursday.

Gallego, who helped Phoenix land its first debate in years, said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez informed him of the change in plans during a phone call Thursday morning.

Local and national organizers initially selected Phoenix to underscore the state’s importance as a presidential battleground and the efforts by Democrats to build on momentum they saw during the 2018 cycle, where Democrats won four statewide seats. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema became the first Democrat in 30 years to win a Senate seat.


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