First presidential debate moves from Notre Dame to Case Western due to COVID-19

The first presidential debate in September has been moved from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

The move came after the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, announced the school would withdraw as host of the debate, saying the burdensome health precautions required would interfere with student education.

“I am grateful to the many members of the University community who have devoted countless hours planning this event, and to the Commission on Presidential Debates leadership for their professionalism and understanding,” Jenkins said in a statement. “But in the end, the constraints the coronavirus pandemic put on the event — as understandable and necessary as they are — have led us to withdraw.”


Instead, the Sept. 29 debate between President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE will be held on Case Western and Cleveland Clinic’s Health Education Campus.

Case Western officials said the school's partnership with the Cleveland Clinic will make hosting the event more feasible during a pandemic.

The debate will take place inside the 477,000-square-foot Samson Pavilion, which was built in 2019 on the 11-acre campus for the university’s schools of medicine, nursing and dentistry. Organizers are establishing risk mitigation procedures now and have not determined yet whether there will be an audience.

“We are honored to host this presidential debate at our shared Health Education Campus,” said Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic and Case Western President Barbara Snyder in a joint statement. “This pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of health care and scientific discovery in unprecedented ways. To have the presidential candidates discuss these issues in our innovative learning space represents a tremendous opportunity for both institutions – and our entire region.”

There are three presidential debates scheduled to take place this fall on Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22.