Virtual Iowa senatorial debate plagued by technical glitches

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst previews Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst previews Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing on ‘Fox & Friends.’

The virtual debate held Thursday evening between Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield was plagued by a series of technical glitches.

Thursday night’s event was the final time voters had the opportunity to compare the two candidates in a face-to-face format.

"During the beginning of last night’s debate, the phone line that allowed Theresa Greenfield to hear the questions and her opponent’s answers was not working," Brian Sather, KCCI president and general manager, told Fox News in a statement.  "Subsequently the phone line to Senator Ernst that allowed her to hear audio was lost."

The problems started when Greenfield was unable to hear a question about former Vice President Joe Biden having not been back to Iowa since the state’s caucus in February. She then attempted to answer, but her response was inaudible.

A moderator then moved onto the next question for Ernst, whose answer was also disrupted by a technical error before CBS affiliate KCCI 8 cut to a break.

The audio faded in and out during Greenfield’s next answer on the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and she experienced another technical glitch when pressed on her stance about packing the Supreme Court.  

Greenfield was able to answer her next question before there were further audio difficulties and the network immediately faded to black. The technical difficulties occurred in the first 15 minutes of the debate before KCCI 8 was able to remedy the problem.

Greefield was later given an additonal question to make up for the early difficulties. 

"The Senate Judiciary Hearings prevented Senator Ernst from making it back to Des Moines," Sather said. 

"We still wanted to provide this critical debate to the voters of Iowa," he added. "The unique challenges of this production led to some unexpected issues.”

The Greenfield campaign pointed the finger at Ernst for being in Washington, D.C. to attend the Supreme Court hearings.

“In August, Senator @joniernst agreed to do this debate in-person,” tweeted Sam Newton, communications director for the Greenfield campaign. “The only thing that changed since then was her position on voting for SCOTUS judges in an election year.”

The Ernst campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.


Greenfield leads Ernst by 4.8 points, according to an average of polls compiled by RealClear Politics.

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