Lots Of Security And Few Allowed In For First Presidential Debate in Cleveland

Sep 29, 2020

The first presidential debate gets underway in a few hours in Cleveland. And around Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, where it will be held, streets are blocked off, security perimeters are up and Ohio National Guard personnel are helping police control people and traffic.

Those who wanted to be on site had to be tested for COVID-19 twice.

There are only about 70 journalists and spectators in the Sheila and Eric Samson Pavilion with the candidates, though hundreds more from around the world will be in the media filing center – with protestors outside.

Case’s general counsel and chief risk management officer Peter Poulos said that’ll make it likely the most sparsely attended debate ever.  

“But virtually, I'm told they're expecting that it's going to be the largest audience, both nationally and internationally, watching since the Commission [on Presidential Debates] started managing the debate in 1980," Poulos said.

Streets around Case and the Clinic are blocked off and secured, and Ohio National Guard personnel are in vehicles and walking the streets. Gov. Mike DeWine announced last week they'd be there, saying the city of Cleveland had requested the help.

The debate came to Case and the Clinic after Notre Dame University withdrew from hosting it, citing "constraints" related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cleveland hosted the first Republican presidential candidate debate in 2015, drawing thousands to see 17 candidates in two separate debates.

Case hosted the only vice presidential debate of the 2004 election year.