NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tuesday’s presidential debate in Cleveland will be the first of the 2020 election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Officials at Belmont University are already preparing for the last debate, which will be held on the campus just 11 days before the election.
You may have seen banners promoting the event all across Music City. Crews are currently building large tents and stages for members of the press nationwide on the university’s lawn.
The tent can hold up to 750 people. But due to the pandemic, less than half of that number will be permitted.
When Belmont was chosen to host the debate in 2019, the university never predicted how much their plans would have to change, but wanted to do everything they could to keep their promise.
“We gave ourselves as a partner to the commission and we will continue to be available for working with them over time,” said Dr. Bob Fisher, the President of Belmont University. “You don’t let your partners down that’s pretty much the way I think about it.”
The last debate they hosted was in 2008 between President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain. They have been a backup location for other election years.
Thousands of spectators attended in 2008, including hundreds of students. A few had the opportunity to meet the candidates. The pandemic will take away similar opportunities this year.
Throughout the semester, the campus has hosted several virtual events and programming centered around the debate to encourage students to get involved.
Fisher says it is possible that a handful of people could be allowed inside of the Curb Event Center, however, the decision will be made by the Commission on Presidential Debates and likely will be at the last minute.
“I think we will learn a lot from Cleveland,” Dr. Fisher said. “The exciting thing is students here at Belmont, your health is not going to be compromised by this event. We are going to follow the guidelines of the city, the Cleveland clinic and HCA, our local partner. I think the measures and precautions are pretty great.”
Belmont created 30,000 debate-themed coloring books for MNPS students. They will be a part of the curriculum for kindergarten through fourth grade students. Click here for more.