McCain, Obama set to spar in presidential debates

Jake Turcotte

While counting down the hours or minutes before the historic text from Barack Obama, there is some other news on the campaign trail.  For one, the Obama and the McCain teams agree on something.  It is rare when they do, but we now know the details of the upcoming debates.

Political observers will be salivating in anticipation for memorable quotes like:”Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” or “There you go again” or “Who am I, why am I here?” or “What happened?  I blacked out.

It is, the campaigns note, the earliest the debate schedule has been agreed on in recent history and the debates will be sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Here’s the lineup:

First Presidential Debate
Date: September 26
Site: University of Mississippi
Topic: Foreign Policy & National Security
Moderator: Jim Lehrer
Staging: Podium debate
Answer Format: The debate will be broken into nine, nine-minute segments. The moderator will introduce a topic and allow each candidate 2 minutes to comment. After these initial answers, the moderator will facilitate an open discussion of the topic for the remaining five minutes, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment.

First Vice Presidential Debate
Date: October 2nd
Site: Washington University (St. Louis)
Moderator: Gwen Ifill
Staging/Answer Format: To be resolved after both parties’ vice presidential nominees are selected.

Second Presidential Debate
Date: October 7
Site: Belmont University
Moderator: Tom Brokaw
Staging: Town hall debate
Format: The moderator will call on members of the audience (and draw questions from the Internet). Each candidate will have two minutes to respond to each question. Following those initial answers, the moderator will invite the candidates to respond to the previous answers, for a total of one minute, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment. In the spirit of the town hall, all questions will come from the audience (or Internet), and not the moderator.

Third Presidential Debate
Date: October 15
Site: Hofstra University
Topic: Domestic and economic policy
Moderator: Bob Schieffer
Staging: Candidates will be seated at a table
Answer Format: Same as first presidential debate
Closing Statements: At the end of this debate (only) each candidate shall have the opportunity for a 90 second closing statement.

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