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2020 Presidential and Vice Presidential Debate Coverage

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Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden will square off for a series of three nationally televised debates beginning Tuesday, Sept. 29. Current Republican Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris will have their one and only debate on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

General Rules

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), sponsor of all presidential and vice presidential debates since 1987, said all four debates will be moderated by a single individual and will run from 9-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) without commercial breaks.

Each moderator will select questions for their debate, and those questions will not be known by CPD or the candidates ahead of time. Moderators can extend segments and control them so each candidate has equal speaking time. The moderator is tasked with regulating conversation so “thoughtful and substantive exchanges occur.”

Below is a rundown of the basic details for each debate. Check back for a recap of the highlights of each debate after it occurs.

Presidential Debate Schedule
Debate Date Moderator Location
First Presidential Tuesday, Sept. 29 Chris Wallace Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland
Vice Presidential Wednesday, Oct. 7 Susan Page The University of Utah,
Salt Lake City
Second Presidential Thursday, Oct. 15 Steve Scully Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami
Third Presidential Thursday, Oct. 22 Kristen Welker Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.

On Sept. 27, 2020, two days before the first debate, the New York Times released stories containing data from Donald Trump’s tax returns, which he has controversially refused to release to the public.

First Presidential Debate

The first of the three 2020 presidential debates will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 9-10:30 p.m. ET in the Samson Pavillion at Case Western Reserve University & Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

The moderator will be news anchor Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday who moderated the final 2016 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Wallace will select the topics, which will be announced a week before the debate, and also create the questions, which will not be shared with either candidate ahead of time.

According to the CPD, this debate and the third presidential debate will be divided into six 15-minute long segments. Each segment will open with a question and each candidate will get two minutes to respond. Candidates will then be able to respond to each other with Wallace using the rest of the time for a deeper discussion of the topic.

On Sept. 22, 2020, the topics for the debate were announced, they are:

  • The Trump and Biden Records
  • The Supreme Court
  • Covid-19
  • The Economy
  • Race and Violence in our Cities
  • The Integrity of the Election

Vice Presidential Debate

The second debate, set to take place Wednesday, Oct. 7, will be the only vice presidential debate for 2020. The vice presidential debate will be held in the Nancy Peery Marriott Auditorium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City from 9-10:30 p.m. ET (7-9:30 p.m. Mountain Time (MT) in Utah).

Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, will moderate the debate between Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate, Kamala Harris and Republican Vice President Mike Pence. The format for this debate includes nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each. As with the first debate, each segment will begin with a question and each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The remaining time will be a moderated debate.

Second Presidential Debate

The third of the four debates and the second presidential debate will be held on Thursday, Oct., 15 in the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Broadcast time will be from 9-10:30 p.m. ET and, as with all other debates, there will be no commercials.

C-SPAN Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, Steve Scully will moderate following a town meeting format in which audience members will pose questions to the candidates. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond to each question. Scully will have an additional minute per question to facilitate more debate.

Those audience members asking questions will be uncommitted voters with help the help of Dr. Frank Newport, Chief Scientist of Analytics at Gallup.

Third Presidential Debate

The third and final presidential debate will be held on Thursday, Oct. 22 at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. This important debate takes place less than two weeks before Americans go to the polls on Nov. 3. As with all other debates, this one will be televised without interruption from 9-10:30 p.m. ET.

Kristen Welker, Co-Anchor of Weekend TODAY and White House Correspondent for NBC News will moderate using the same format as the first debate. Again, that format is six segments of 15 minutes each, two-minutes response time for each candidate, followed by moderated debate.

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