New rules needed for debates to be fair

Were the COVID-19 virus to be a creature capable of thought, it would be easy now to accuse it of engaging in a plot aimed at American democracy. The most devious, evil schemer based in Moscow or Beijing could not come up with a more perfect storm leading up to the Nov. 3 election.

With Election Day less than a month away, the president of the United States is sick and in the hospital. We join former vice president Joe Biden, President Donald Trump’s opponent in that election, in hoping and praying for a speedy, full recovery.

But Trump, who specializes in in-person campaigning, clearly is at a disadvantage. Nothing can be done about that.

A different situation involves the two debates between Trump and Biden that remain on the schedule. One is set for Oct. 15 in Miami. The other is scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nashville.

Even after he leaves the hospital, Trump will continue to suffer from the effect of COVID-19. It is unlikely he will be fully back to normal by Oct. 15.

It is not Trump’s style to seek a postponement. We suspect Biden would not, either, out of fear he would be accusing the president of weakness.

That leaves it up to the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates to do something. What?

Commission representatives should consult with both the Biden and Trump campaigns, of course. It may be that some fair means can be found to change ground rules for the Oct. 15 debate, to make it fair to both sides.

If that cannot be done, the commission should consider a postponement. Perhaps both debate could be moved back a week, to Oct. 22 and Oct. 29.

Doing nothing should not be considered an option. The American people deserve to see both Trump and Biden debating while at their best, or as nearly so as possible.


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