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. Round Ten

    Time to take off the gloves and take these Republican nerds out behind the bleachers.

    August 21, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  2. Steph

    Proud Army Mom – you'd be happier if all the moderators were democrats so they could just 'skim the surface' with Obama I bet!


    August 21, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Tom NObama

    Why won't Obambi have more one on one debates? Because Mr. Teleprompter does not have an original thought in his inexperienced brain. At Saddleback he got his shirt handed to him. Mr. ah and um constantly looked for ways to backtrack on his previous statements. Some say he's trying to be nuanced, but like everything else it hard to believe anything that this man says. Who else will he throw under the bus for his on vanity?

    August 21, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Songbird and Penny

    His own men called him "SONGBIRD McCAIN".

    August 21, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. watching from the sidelines

    why did Obama accept this ?

    Naturally foreign policy is a McCain forte (atleast that is what he says)
    There should be a mix between foreign policy and domestic issues.
    Obama has made a mistake in accepting this debate which concentrates solely on foreign policy

    August 21, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. Alice Brinkley

    Even though Brokaw and company will try to torpedo McCain, it would be most advisable for BO not to show up. Look at his sorry showing last Sat in California, and Sen McCain was not even on the podium.

    August 21, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  7. Susan

    McCain will come out wearing full dress Navy uniform to show once again that he is a POW. Listen to the answers folks. McCain will be all about threatening other countries, while Obama will be thoughtful and sincere. No McCain in )*!

    August 21, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Phil in KC

    I think 3 is enough. Wasn't that the number of debates between Kennedy and Nixon? Sure, there were a lot more between Lincoln and Douglas, but they didn't have TV back then. They had to go from population center to population center to get the exposure. That's no longer necessary. How many times do we have to hear them address the same issues?

    August 21, 2008 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Tim

    How about that! One of the moderators is a Republican. I would have guessed there would have been zero. Since McCain wiped the floor with Obama last Saturday night, I would have at least expect him to have SOME help. I can't wait till the debates start. The speech writers can't come in to save anyone.....and it's nationally televised...even better!

    August 21, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Chipster

    The economy is a disaster. Jobs have been outsourced at our expense. Federal agencies are not enforcing regulations that protect consumers and are being run by incompetent Republican loyalists. The military has been driven to the brink with stop-loss tour extensions and multiple tours. Who ever thought the United States would be known for torture, detention of prisoners without justice, illegal domestic surveillance, and a host of constitutional violations.

    Debating skills don't matter. Age, race, gender...don't matter. All that matters to me is getting these corporate thieves OUT of our government. We have to begin to repair the damage to our nation and our reputation. McCain will just continue the Bush policies. Obama may not be able to turn it around quickly but at least he will begin changing the direction.

    August 21, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Did Obama negotiate the white back ground at the Saddleback McCain Rally? I believe Obama is a better choice than McCain, but I can't imagine how they could do his ears on Mount Rushmore!
    He looked better with longer hair.

    August 21, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. Draft Republicans First

    QUESTIONER: If we don't reenact the draft, I don't think we'll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.

    MCCAIN: Ma'am, let me say that I don't disagree with anything you said.

    August 21, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  13. John McCain

    I hope I understand all the questions with my old, dumb brain head.

    August 21, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Question 1

    With military commitments in Korea, Afghanistan, Europe and Iraq and with our tough talk regarding tense international situations with Iran & Russia, how big does our military need to be in both troops and budget? (Answer in 30 seconds please)

    Will you rule out the possibility of a draft to meet our military commitments as you forsee them to be? (Yes / no Answer with follow up).

    August 21, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Amy

    I can't wait to see these debates! McCain will give his stump speech scripted answers, and Obama will shine with his intelligence and ability to think on his feet. I'm not voting for another dumb president, and I don't know why anyone else would consider McCain for the top job.

    August 21, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  16. Accountability for all not few!

    This time around we shall see how McCain can be so sharp and quick with all answers! Cheating, has become the second name of McCain and his team, and that is the man that promised us a "civil general election campaign". Haven't spent weeks throwing kitchen sink trash at Obama is a good indication how trurtworthy McCain is.
    How can McCain be pro-life when he wants war all the time? McCain wants to follow Osama Bin Laden to the gate of hell, and I am very sure his request will be granted, so he can experience first hand how it feels. Getting burnt up in Humvee in Iraq because of the war McCain and Bush lied to send other people's loved ones is not exactly "gate of heaven"!

    August 21, 2008 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  17. Alex TX

    All you folks who support mccain are nothing but irresponsible. Obviously you could care less about the future of your children.
    These so called conservatives are nothing but pathetic. Fiscal conservative is nothing but a slogan to them. The primary principal of conservatism is to pay as you go, and not leave a mountain of debts for the next generation. The bible does say that a good steward leaves good inheritance for his or her children and not debt. Under Bush the country is now over 9 trillion in debt. I really pity some of you morons who do not understand the implications of irresponsible governing. Go ahead and vote for mccain who said in his memoirs that he is did not run for president in 2000 because he was patriotic but simply because he just wanted to be president. Go ahead and vote for mccain...MORONS!

    August 21, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    I hope the media representatives don't ask ignorant questions like they did a couple of times during the primaries.

    August 21, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. Andy

    Three debates on three liberal stations. So we are going to get, "Senator Obama, if you were a tree, what kind would you be?" "Now Senator McCain, when did you stop beating your wife?"

    Take away the sound bites, take away the teleprompter and ask the following questions:

    1. How will you defeat Islamofacism?
    2. What is your position on abortion, partial birth abortion and gay marriage?
    3. How are you going to fix social security?
    4. How will you grow the economy?

    And let them discuss it for three hours.

    August 21, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  20. Credit Card Republicans

    Whats the matter Cindy,dont like free speech?You keep throwing my statements in your moderation can?

    August 21, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. MLH

    I cannot wait to see and hear the debates. I am not sure that they will change the minds of people who have spent the last few months calling either candidate names, but I think it will be valuable to see the two of them on the same stage, answering the same questions.

    August 21, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. Question 2

    We know all about the mortgage crisis and the enron crisis and the energy crisis. What are the top 3 future crisis that threaten our countries future that you plan proactively address?

    Explain to us, in detail, what you are going to do to head these off.

    August 21, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  23. John in Ohio

    Since televised debates started, there have been 3 presidential debates and 1 vice presidential debate. All have occurred after the conventions.

    This is why people who have demanded debates prior to now are idiots.

    August 21, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  24. Connie

    I can not believe the people blogging are complaining about Obama only agreeing to three debates,when only last week you were complaining about how much coverage he was getting. Sounds like John McSenile wants free TV time to me.To tell the truth I believe three debates of hearing about John McSenile being a POW and the lie about the cross story will be enough.And how much can we take of MY FRIENDS, sounds a little like NIXON and MY FELLOW AMERICANS and we all know Nixon had something to hide. What about McSenile. Intelligences over 26 years as a Washington inside for me. OBAMA 08

    August 21, 2008 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  25. FedUpDem

    I certainly hope that neither campaign is given a script of possible questions from the moderators- I want to see obama foot in mouth, duh, um, well- we're working on our stand on that issue. No script, no teleprompter....suh-weeeetttt!!!

    Lifelong Dem voting my conscience for my country!!

    No to oprabamanation!

    August 21, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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