There’s just a little over a month left until the United States elects its next president: Democrat Joe Biden, or incumbent Republican Donald Trump. Before Election Day, November 3, the candidates are expected to face off in three presidential debates, the first of which is tonight, September 29. After months of sparring, this is the first time that Biden and Trump will meet face to face on the campaign trail, and all bets are off.
The “fun” begins at 9:00pm ET, when the candidates will debate at Western Case Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. While it’s unclear how the debate stage will be positioned, there will be a socially-distanced audience of less than 100 attendees due to coronavirus concerns. It’s a stark contrast from the Democratic primary debates of 2019 and early 2020, when over a dozen candidates debated in front of packed auditoriums throughout the United States. The debate is scheduled to run until 10:30pm ET with no commercial breaks.
It’s going to be harder to avoid watching the debate than finding it. The event will air across all major news networks (including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, MSNBC, and C-SPAN), along with those networks’ websites, YouTube channels, and streaming services. NPR will also air the debate if you’d prefer audio coverage. The debate will be moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who won praise for helming the final presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton in October 2016.
“My job is to be as invisible as possible,” Wallace said in a Fox News segment ahead of the debate. “I’m trying to get [Trump and Biden] to engage, to focus on the key issues, to give people at home a sense of, ‘why I want to vote for one versus the other.’” He has said in the past that he will not serve as a fact checker during the debate, calling it “a step too far” and insisting that it should be up to the candidates to call out their opponent when they believe they’re incorrect.
The debate will be broken up into six segments. The candidates will have two minutes each to respond to the initial question, but, as anyone who has ever watched a political debate knows, that will go out the window after the first sentence is uttered. Wallace has chosen the following topics to discuss: Trump’s and Biden’s records, the Supreme Court (including the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett), COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in US cities, and the integrity of the election.
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