Debating the debates: Lawmakers split on how final presidential debates should be handled

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Reaction on Capitol Hill to this year’s first and only vice-presidential debate is just as split down party lines as the ideas lawmakers have on how to proceed with the scheduled presidential debates.

Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler thanked Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter, “for standing for freedom” during Thursday night’s debate in Salt Lake City.

But Democrats don’t have that same reaction.

“The same interruptions, just in a different city,” Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) said Thursday.

Rep. Adams said Pence followed President Donald Trump’s debate style by interrupting California Sen. Kamala Harris Wednesday night.

Georgia Republican Congressman Doug Collins said interruptions are just part of debating.

“Debates are not supposed to be you talk and then there’s no interaction. Most people don’t like that, they know that’s not real,” Collins said. “I think he was very honest and open.”

The vice-presidential debate took place just one week before what was scheduled to be the next presidential debate. Organizers on Thursday said it would take place virtually instead of in Miami due to President Trump’s recent coronavirus diagnosis.

President Trump rejected that idea, which set off a back-and-forth between his and former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign on how to handle the next debates.

Florida Republican Congressman Greg Steube said a debate should be face to face.

“If you want to debate the highest position in the land, the two people need to be there in person,” Steube said Thursday.

But Congresswoman Adams said a virtual format is the safer choice as the president is still recovering from the coronavirus.

“He’s contagious. He knows he’s contagious,” Adams added.

The Trump campaign said both of the next two debates should be pushed back a week, but the Biden campaign hasn’t agreed to those terms. As of Thursday evening, it’s still unclear how or when the final two debates will happen.

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