2020 Presidential debate schedule

Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden go face to face tonight in the first of three highly anticipated presidential campaign debates. 

Viewers can stream the match-up live at USATODAY.com with real-time facts and context from USA TODAY’s team of experts showing on-screen during the debate. The debate also will be aired on most major networks and cable news channels, including Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, PBS and C-SPAN from 9 to 10:30 p.m. EDT.

The coronavirus pandemic will make these debates different from previous ones. News sources said Trump and Biden will share the same stage, forgo the traditional pre-debate handshake, and maintain social distancing.

The candidates and moderator Chris Wallace are not expected to wear masks tonight. The audience is limited to 75 to 80 people.

Format: Six 15-minute segments selected by the moderator and announced in advance. The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. 

Topics: Moderator Chris Wallace chose topics based on major issues. While these can change because of news developments, the topics are:

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

This debate venue was changed from the University of Notre Dame because of concerns about the pandemic.

Format: Nine 10-minute segments. This will be the only debate between Vice President Mike Pence and his challenger, Kamala Harris. The moderator will ask an opening question, and candidates will have two minutes to respond to questions in each segment. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.

Format: The debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the questions will be posed by citizens from the South Florida area. The candidates will have two minutes to respond to each question, and there will be an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate further discussion. The town meeting participants will be uncommitted voters selected under the supervision of Frank Newport, a senior scientist at Gallup.

This debate venue was changed from the University of Michigan because of pandemic concerns.

Format: Same format as the first debate, with six 15-minute segments.

Presidential debates were not common in election years until Sept. 26, 1960, when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon had their first of four debates.

The debate between Kennedy and Nixon was the first televised presidential debate and drew more than 66.4 million viewers.

President Jimmy Carter refused to participate in any debate that included independent candidate John Anderson, wanting a one-on-one debate with Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. Carter skipped the debate Sept. 21, 1980.

St. Louis – more specifically, Washington University – has hosted four fall debates: presidential debates in 1992, 2000 and 2004 and the 2008 vice presidential debate.

SOURCE The Commission of Presidential Debates, debates.org; History.com; USA TODAY research; PHOTOS AP, AFP, C-SPAN and NBC; © Mapcreator.io | © OSM.org

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