Here they come again. After a seemingly endless round of Democratic primary debates in the approach to Joe Biden’s win, we’re heading into another, smaller series of debates, three of them for Biden and Donald Trump and one for the two vice presidential candidates.
Each of the fall debates will be moderated by a single person, rather than a team — and the identities of those individuals chosen to moderate will be announced by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates in early September. Prepare yourselves for possible controversy over who is chosen; Trump has already suggested that he does not trust the CPD, which has sponsored the debates since 1988. Earlier this year, he hinted that be might not participate at all; now he is pushing for the commission to add an extra presidential debate to the conventional three. Tomorrow, he may create other issues, as is his wont.
The first presidential debate will be on Tuesday, Sept. 29, in South Bend, Ind. The second will be on Thursday, Oct. 15, in Miami. And the third will be on Thursday, Oct. 22, in Nashville. The vice presidential face-off between Mike Pence and the running mate chosen by Biden will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 7, in Salt Lake City. The first and third presidential debates will be broken into six 15-minute segments, and the moderator-chosen topics will be announced at least one week earlier. The second presidential debate will be a town meeting, with questions posed by local Miami citizens. The vice presidential debate will be divided into nine segments of 10 minutes each.
It will be interesting to see how the debates look as the pandemic overlaps with the election. The second debate has already been moved, from Michigan to Miami, after the University of Michigan canceled over safety concerns. Will there be audiences? Miami Mayor Francis Suarez isn’t sure about what will happen in his city: “Right now, we are not in Phase 3,” he said in a text to Politico, “so I can’t see it today being hosted with people in the audience. Impossible to predict where we will be on October 15. It’s possible that we may already be in Phase 3 by then, and it’s also possible that the debate can be held without people in the audience.”