What to Know About the Upcoming Debates

There are less than 50 days until Election Day 2020. With all the attention that mail-in voting is getting, fears over long lines and safety issues because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the constant barrage of news headlines, it's easy to forget that the presidential and vice-presidential debates are still set to happen, though there are sure to be a host of changes to the usual format. Here's what you need to know, from when they are to how to watch and what to expect — though there's no telling what'll go down when President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden take to the microphones.

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When are the 2020 presidential debates?

The first is scheduled to be held at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, September 29, at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. The second and third are on the calendar for Thursday, October 15, at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida; and Thursday, October 22, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Those debates are also set to go from 9-10:30 p.m. Eastern time and have no commercial breaks.

While those dates will probably stay unchanged, the COVID-19 pandemic could cause some disruptions. There's no telling.

What about the vice-presidential debates?

There's only one scheduled, so keep 9-10:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, October 7, open on your calendars. Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence are set to square off at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. The debate is set to be 90 minutes long, without commercial breaks.

How do I watch the presidential and vice-presidential debates?

All of the debates, presidential and vice-presidential, will be broadcast on all major news networks.

Who will be moderating the debates?

According to The New York TimesChris Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday, will host the first debate. Steve Scully, the senior executive producer of C-SPAN, will moderate the second. Kristen Welker, NBC's White House correspondent, will helm the third. USA Today's Susan Page will be holding court at the vice presidential debate.

Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in a statement"These are not the moderators we would have recommended if the campaign had been allowed to have any input. Some can be identified as clear opponents of President Trump, meaning Joe Biden will actually have a teammate on stage most of the time to help him excuse the radical, leftist agenda he is carrying."

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said in a statement to the BBC, "As Joe Biden has said for months — without farcical antics — he looks forward to participating in the debates set by the commission, regardless of who the independently chosen moderators are."

Will there be live audiences and will Trump and Biden debate on Zoom?

According to the Washington Post, Trump requested that both candidates appear on stage. The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates hasn't announced whether or not Trump and Biden will be calling into the debates or if they'd be happening as they have in the past, with an audience and both candidates on stage together. The commission has simply stated that the debates will adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Wasn’t there supposed to be another debate?

The Trump campaign unsuccessfully lobbied for one additional debate, stating that mail-in voting ballots were being sent out in September. The commission rejected the proposal, stating that the "difference between ballots having been issued by a state and those ballots having been cast by voters, who are under no compulsion to return their ballots before the debates."

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