Cancel your Tuesday night plans (remember plans?): on September 29th, the first of three debates between sitting U.S. president Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will air live at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST. Fox News’ Chris Wallace will be hosting the 90-minute event.
There will be six segments for the debate, with each candidate given 15 minutes to talk. Will Trump try to talk over those 15 minutes? (What do you think?!) Will Biden say words like “malarkey”? (Probs.) Will the debate be a hot mess? (Almost definitely.) Will there be commercials? (Nope, so at least we’ll have that.)
Here’s everything else you can, uh, look forward to—
What topics are on the table?
According to the Commission of Presidential Debates (yes, this is a real thing), there are a few key topics slated for the night, as chosen by the moderator:
The Trump and Biden Records
The Supreme Court, COVID-19
Race and Violence in our Cities
The Integrity of the Election
With RBG’s recent passing and the GOP pushing the Senate to move forward to confirm Trump’s replacement nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, and the recently published Trump tax returns, we can reasonably assume that there will be a lot more to talk about.
Where do I watch?
You can catch it on any major news network (including CNN, CBS, ABC, Fox News, C-SPAN, NBC, and MSNBC), and The New York Times and the Washington Post, per tradition, will be live-streaming online.
How are the candidates preparing?
Ehhhhh, depends on your definition of “preparing.” The Washington Post has reported that Trump is planning on attacking Biden about his personal life, specifically the controversy around his son, Hunter Biden. Biden has seemingly responded to this tactic, telling the press: “I hope I don’t get baited into a brawl with this guy, because that’s the only place he’s comfortable. I know how to handle bullies.”
Trump has also tweeted that he wants Biden to be drug tested prior to the debate—a real classy move if we’ve ever seen one.
Biden, on the other hand, is allegedly committed to fact-checking Trump as needed (which, if history is any indication, will be pretty often). According to the Post, Biden is "anticipating a venomous barrage" and wants to focus on how he would address COVID-19 and the economy, both of which Biden believes Trump has made worse.
Will the filming be COVID-19 safe?
Yes, at least it’s expected to be. Due to socially distant protocols, both candidates will be placed apart farther than usual. They are also expected to not shake hands at the beginning of the debate, so TBD on if there will be any pseudo-friendly elbow bumps in place. The taping of the debate will take place in Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Will there be an audience?
Yes, but not a big one. According to The Washington Post, the audience will be smaller than usual (80-90 people max).
When are the other debates?
The next debate scheduled is the Vice Presidential Debate between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence. It will be held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, October 7th at 9 p.m. EST. Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief of USA Today, is slated to moderate. It will be divided into nine segments with each candidate having 10 minutes to speak.
The second presidential debate is on Thursday, October 16th at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. It will start at 9 p.m. EST and it will be held as a town hall discussion, meaning that audience members can ask questions to the candidate. Steve Scully, a political editor for C-SPAN, is expected to moderate.
The third and final presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday, October 22nd at Belmont University in Nashville starting at 9 p.m. EST. Kristen Welker, the NBC News White House correspondent and co-anchor of Today Weekend, will be moderating. The topics for the six 15-minute segments, chosen by the moderator, have not been announced yet.
That’s it for now! Keep checking this page for up-to-date deets as they happen.
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