Ready, Set, Debate!

By Ed O'Keefe

Nov 19, 2007 4:01pm

ABC News’ David Chalian Reports: Perhaps it’s not the unveiling of the NFL’s regular season schedule or the announcement of the next Olympic site, but the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD to political junkies) has released the dates and locations of the 2008 presidential and vice presidential debates.

And the presidential debate winners ares…

Friday, September 26, 2008: University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS (Domestic policy focus)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008: Belmont University, Nashville, TN (Town hall format)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008: Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY (Foreign policy focus)

There will also be a vice presidential debate on Thursday, October 2, 2008 at Washington University, in St. Louis, MO, also with a domestic and foreign policy focus.

Interestingly, the Commission initially picked Washington State University to host the veepstakes debate but the Cougars declined the offer. The Commission expressed disappointment in the lack of geographic diversity by hosting all four debates east of the Mississippi River (or close to it). 

A fictional aside … There may have also been concerns about Washington University’s ability to pull off a 2004 encore sans the fine work of Jonathan Greenberger.  See him then, see him now, and learn how YOU can be part of Vote 2008 at ABC News by interning with the Political Unit at the end of today’s Note.

The criteria for participating in the debates (not interning at ABC News…yet) is as it was in 2004:

  • Evidence of Constitutional eligibility
  • Evidence of Ballot Access (must appear on enough state ballots to win 270 electoral votes)
  • 15% support of the national electorate (determined by the average of five pre-debate polls)

Shortly before the debates, moderators will be chosen by the Commission without consultation with candidates or political parties. Each debate will be 90 minutes in length, start at 9:00 pm ET, and each will feature a single moderator.

Each debate except for town meeting, the Commission will ask the candidates to be seated at table with moderator and there are two format changes from 2004:

1.  Each of the debates will be divided into 8-10 minute issue segments — moderator will introduce each segment with an issue by comment or question — each candidate comments. Then moderator further facilitates conversation — including direct engagement for the rest of the 8-10 minutes.  Time will be reserved for closing statements for each debate.

2.  Internet access for town meeting debate — questions will not only come from audience members present, but also from internet participants.

As is customary, the Commission also announced two backup sites in the event one of the host sites is unable to host a debate.  The backup sites are Center College in Danville, KY and Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, NC.

The Commission estimates that it will cost roughly $1.3 million for the host organizations to put on each debate. 

To learn even more about the debate click HERE.

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