Donald Trump just announced that he tested positive for COVID-19. If he is still contagious during on Thursday, October 15th, what are the options for the 2nd Presidential Debate? Can someone else like Pence or Kayleigh McEnany stand in for him? Is that even a possibility? Can it be done remotely?

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    It's bit hasty for all (2) the close votes. I realize there's probably limited precedent, but what do we know of applicable rules, if any? Did the debate rules ever consider temporary medical holdups? 2nd thing is almost everyone runs covid off 2 weeks/14 days isolation schedules, so does the 15th fall in that range? Suppose not, if his exposure event was on the 30th. This is a big news item, perhaps some edits are warranted to make it fit SE.Po better but just shutting it down will just see it resurface as a question later, as it should. Oct 2, 2020 at 5:47
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    And, at the least, rather than a blunt, uncommented, Vote to Close, try to indicate to the OP, being a new user, what the issues might be or suggestions for improvement. I suspect that, at the end of the day, it's too early to really have more than guesses to the procedures that will eventually be agreed to, but that makes it a too-early question, rather than a bad question. Oct 2, 2020 at 5:55
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    VtC as it's too early to tell anything. And by the time it's not too early it will be trivial to find out what's going to happen as it will be headline news across the US if not the world.
    – Jontia
    Oct 2, 2020 at 9:25
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    @MSalters given the recent stuff about mic cutoffs and talking over each other, it doesn't seem like the rules are published publically. Otherwise this would have different answers, referencing the relevant rule sections.
    – Jontia
    Oct 2, 2020 at 11:19
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    “Is there precedent...” My brother is in the news business. He said that in 1960 for the third debate, Nixon and Kennedy were in different ABC studios, different cities. (See the sidebar about third debate location here: cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1996/debates/history/1960/index.shtml) So if Trump is not cleared but not sick, they could setup him in the WH and Biden wherever and the moderator and townhall participants in Miami.
    – Damila
    Oct 2, 2020 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


Debates are not constitutionally mandated. There is no law that requires a particular number or format of debates.

So it a matter for the TV networks, Trump and Biden to agree. The easiest option is to postpone. It is perfectly legal for Pence to appear in place of Trump, or to debate in separate places by video conference. It is legal for the Press Secretary to appear, but that would be a very odd choice (she isn't a particularly senior member of the Trump team)

  • Or do a virtual debate via video conference.
    – Joe W
    Oct 2, 2020 at 19:30
  • Actually, it would all be up to the commission of presidential debates to determine tey don't need to ask the candidates Oct 2, 2020 at 22:37

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