August 21st, 2008
09:54 AM ET
10 years ago

Campaigns reach final agreement on presidential debates

(CNN) - The McCain and Obama campaigns said Thursday that they have nailed down the details for this fall’s three 90-minute presidential debates.

As announced two weeks ago, Jim Lehrer of PBS’s The NewsHour will moderate the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain September 26 at the University of Mississippi. The faceoff will focus on foreign policy and national security issues.

Thursday’s announcement laid out the debate format: each candidate will get two minutes to respond to a question, followed by an open discussion for another five minutes.

The second debate, moderated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw, will be held October 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The format will be town-hall style; all questions will come from members of the audience or queries sent in over the Internet.

The Presidential Debate Commission said earlier this month that Gallup will choose undecided voters from in or around the Nashville, Tennessee area to participate in the town hall, and Brokaw will review each question before it is posed to avoid duplication.

The final presidential debate – which will cover domestic and economic policy issues - will take place October 15 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer will moderate.

The Hofstra faceoff will be the only debate where each candidate will have the chance to make a 90-second closing statement.

Details of the vice presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, which will be hosted by NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill, will be released after both candidates name their running mates.

soundoff (188 Responses)
  1. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Grandpa McSame will be wearing the "cone of silence" on his noggin like a dunce cap!

    August 21, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. California Voter

    These could be interesting. It's a shame Obama didn't want to participate in any town hall meetings with McCain. It's always good to see the candidates in different venues.

    August 21, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. proud army and navy mom

    sounds good to me, even though Tom Brokaw is a Republican, i hope he can be fair.

    Brokaw needs to do his homework well and not just skim the surface with mccain. I know sen obama will do well, he just has to be tough.

    August 21, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    It's about time.

    Now let's watch them closely to see which candidate gets personal, which candidate misrepresents facts, and which candidate stumbles over words.

    August 21, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. Mario

    I can't believe there are so few debates. Obama is a coward.

    August 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. NoMcSame

    Get him Obama and don't let him breath. White spin is in the mix. How can Old Man Mcsame with 26yrs as a Senator be the underdog to a junior Senator like Obama. If Obama is close or even with McSame I think that Mcsame should be the one that has to worry. A little known Senator as they call him is in the hunt for the most powerful position in the world and Mcsame with more time behind him than in front has to worry? Go figure that. Could it be that he did not do a thing the whole 26yrs that he has been in office but eat lunch on us. He should be miles ahead but no,he even had to take the republicanlow line of politics and syart the smearing and lying to at least stay in the race. So stop the spin and tell it like it is when you come out with you polls.

    August 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Shrill for Hill

    I can't wait for the debates. There is no way McBush is going to be able to compete with Obama. He's just not that clever. Snarky responses just won't take you that far.

    August 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  8. Dem for Unity

    Let the fight begin!!!!!!!!! Fight the good fight Obama!

    August 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  9. Independent-Latina-for-OBAMA

    Good, can't wait for the debates! I am hoping that when America sees the stark difference between Sen. Obama and McCain that they will wake up and see that we have an opportunity to forward, be better and start to address some of the failures of the last EIGHT YEARS of GOP rule!

    I hope everyone will go see Warren Buffet's new documentary, "I.O.U.S.A." WE NEED TO BE INFORMED, SO WE CAN MAKE AN EDUCATED DECISION IN NOVEMBER!



    August 21, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. sherry for Obama

    Toe to Toe
    Eye to eye
    Obama will show what a great leader should look and sound like.

    Obama for America

    August 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  11. DLB from AR

    John McCain doesn't have a chance in a real debate without an unfair advantage. I will look forward to watching it. It will be great. Obama will seperate himself big time in these debates.

    August 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. Chris, NJ

    I wonder why Obama only wanted the 3 debates....
    I find it funny though. The debate at Ole Miss, McCain will be staying with the president of the University but Obama refuses to stay on campus. He'll be helicoptered in and out from Memphis. That's another one where I have to ask, "why?"

    August 21, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  13. Jeff

    Oh Mother of God, haven't we heard enough from both of them? We will hear the same old Republican line from McCain and Obama's standard pie in the sky rhetoric for which he is so famous. Neither candidate can add anything new to the mix. Cant we just hold the election now and get it over with? The next four years are likely to be a disaster no matter who wins. The most frightening thing about this whole thing is that our Presidential candidates should be America's best and brightest. Instead, we continually pick the biggest clowns at the circus. Nothing can underscore the ignorance of the American electorate like our presidential elections. Time to sit back and enjoy the show!

    August 21, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  14. Mike - Texas

    So much for Obama's statement that he'd debate McCain any time any where. McCain wanted to have 10 debates and all he could get out of Obama was 3. I have just one word for Obama (chicken ).

    August 21, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  15. Still for Hillary

    Obama is going down!!!!!!!!!!

    August 21, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  16. Wade - University Student

    Britney, Barack or Barry that he use to go by is finished.

    We hoped there was something there, but there is not.

    Barry just doesn't measure up to the media hype, his dangerous left wing policies supported by his life time friends a collection of extreme left wingers is dangerous and scares me.

    As a university student I want America to be stay a super power so the debate I will watch but McCain would have to screw up 10 times for me to buy into this left wing lip service America rreject for 200 yrs that kept us strong.

    August 21, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  17. EBC

    I can't WAIT for these DEBATES.... John McCain is going to EAT CROW in front of millions of voters. I guess we shall SOON see how the OLD WHITE HAIR DUDE does when he's NOT sitting in front of a gullible faith based audience and DOESN'T KNOW what the questions are going to be in advance!! He also won't have Joe Lieberman and "Whinning" Mr. Graham "correcting" his every word for him.

    Everyone has been so "sappy"when it comes to John McCain, NO one ever VETS him like they do Sen. Obama, but that's okay, because you know what? GOD sees ALL and HEARS ALL. He KNOWS that John McCAin has lied to the American people and continues to "manipulate" the truth every singe day. He's NEVER been true to his word and this will come back and haunt him.

    The recent POLLS don't prove a darn thing, you need to look at the STATE-BY-STATE polls to get the FACTS!!! MSNBC, CNN, FOX, etc. They are all spewing they own agendas when reporting their "favorite polls".

    August 21, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  18. McCrazy

    More Foreign Policy debates. Wonderful (sarcasm). How bout a debate on our country? Is anyone else sick of hearing about Iraq and the Surge that supposedly worked but actually hasnt? I say we send McCain to be the President of Iraq since that seems to be all that matters to him.

    August 21, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  19. Delay man

    McCain will need Bill O Reilly and Sean Hannity to be in those debates.

    August 21, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  20. Rodham Democrat

    Why are the first two debates held in meaningless states for the general?

    Tennessee and Mississippi will vote for McCain b/c he's the Republican candidate, and education isn't exactly top-notch in these states when compared to East and West Coast states...

    I don't like these Southerners dominating the audience for the first two debates b/c the South does not represent America

    August 21, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |

    This time McCain won't be able to have prepared answers. Lets see how well he thinks on his feet. Obama, clean his clock, his grandfarther clock that is.

    August 21, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  22. Roxy, New York

    I wonder if McCain will get the questions ahead of time. And I wonder if America will fall for one-word answers again, even though our problems should be addressed in more words.

    August 21, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  23. Jan

    so much for the Obama non-negative campaign. He had his followers do it before–now he has come clean and getting desperate–doing it himself.

    August 21, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. Read my Lips

    No new taxes, but we will more than off set them by deregulating natural gas and electric companies and allow gasoline to increase over 400 % while we have the power.Oh, and let us not forget we saved you tons of money by effectively shutting down the FDA so you,your children and your pets could be poisoned by foods,drugs and toys that were made in countries that allow child labor.Now wasnt that a great deal?

    August 21, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  25. Abby

    Chris, NJ, only three??? Three 2 hour long debates is more than PLENTY to get through the issues! Any more would be pulling big crowds for McCain that he cant get himself and Obama‘s campaign aint no fool. They will not give McCain anymore of their limelight than they need to.

    OBAMA 08!!!

    August 21, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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