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. name rank serial#



    August 21, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  2. Question 3

    Do you support an immediate increase in CAFE standards and a doctrine that requires these to increase steadily over time?

    What are you going to do about it. By when?

    August 21, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. kel

    In case anyone cares Obama will do well in town hall meetingsbut here is a point i want do know why is it that McCain con not read from a telepromter can he read.

    August 21, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Amon

    Dude, a collection of 'dangerous left-wing' policies is what built this country. The great victories this country has seen- the Civil Rights era, victory in WWII, the early Reconstruction, were brought about by left-wing policy. The counter points to these- Watergate, the Red Scare and McCarthyism era, the reintroduction of the disenfranchised Confederacy were all earmarked by the right abusing its own power. The right is great when America is running at its best, but with the way the country is heading down the tubes now, they're the worst possible thing for America.

    August 21, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. name rank serial#



    August 21, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Question 4

    What good are educational vouchers?

    If they only subsidize wealthier families but tease poorer families with the prospect of school choice, should they be allowed?

    August 21, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. karen-phoenix

    Watch CNN. Obama has two or three town hall meeting EVERY day!!! McCain may get one in. Obama works 24/7 while McBush works 3 or 4 days a week. OUT with the OLD and IN with the NEW.

    August 21, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. Obama is a phony

    He's shown time after time that if he doesn't have a teleprompter, he is clueless, stumbles over his words, and can't decide how to answer a question, because he has taken different stances on an issue in the past. All of you Obama supporters, do you also support Socialism, which has failed all over the world?

    Change you should be scared of!

    August 21, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. RealityKing

    Snakes are afraid of the light..

    August 21, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. Cynthia

    Senator Obama went into the Saddleback conversation with a clear distinct disadvantage because of what evangelicals believe in. I do believe that in the real debates to come we will see who is real and who is not. Senator McCain's town hall are sometimes by invitation only and that means in most cases it is people who think the same way he does and they are not going to ask him in hard hitting questions. I did see that in Senator McCain's Mexico meeting on yesterday a lady asked him about instituting the draft and he said that it was not off the table. If I had a child of draft age I definitely would not vote for him because in the name of national security – it seems like he likes war instead of trying a little diplomacy first.

    August 21, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. Patrick Henry, Fort Myers

    I feel unrepresented!!!
    As a Libertarian–I'd like to see my candidate get a fair opportunity to offer alternative positions on priorities for our nation and a clearer direction
    The extraordinarily vague requirements pertaining to electoral college majority–of potential candidates unfairly restricts even viable 3rd parties from ever participating in debates. In addition the 15% polling (5-times nationally) severely restricts third parties who do not have the intense financing of the two major parties.

    Too bad–the Presidential Debate Commission (made up entirely of truly "partisan" members of the DEM/REP party) won't bend their rules a little.

    The Libertarian Party is excluded from the debates. Yet national polls show a majority of Americans really want to allow third party candidates who will appear on their ballots to participate.

    I'm weary of Obama, McCain and all the machinery behind them both. Once–I'd like to hear unvarnished truth coming from a candidate like Bob Barr–who is a greater threat to the status quo (and business/social special interests)–and more desirous of real change in Washington than either Obama or McCain.

    Libertarians 2008
    Visit, donate, reclaim representation by the people for the people.

    August 21, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  12. hillybilly

    the debates wont change my vote.the negative attacks wont change my vote.the media will not change my vote.i have done my own research on both candidates.i will vote for the one with the best ideas.i will vote for the one who will bring the country closer together,not divide it further.i will vote for the one who will restore our prestige around the world,not further isolate us.i will vote for the one who gives me hope that america can fulfill its promise of leading the world to peace and prosperity.i will vote for the one who has the best ideas for saving our planet from destruction by global warming.i will vote for the one who brings our troops home from illegal war in iraq.i WILL vote for 'the one'.

    August 21, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  13. obamaton

    Obama will do and say whatever it takes to win!

    August 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. Ken in NC

    If the campaigns have reached an agreement on the Presidential Debates, what does Senator McCain have to do with them. These are Presidential Debates and not Debates of the War College.

    August 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. B J

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

    So where is a better representation NYC, San Fran? I see no problem with it. Besides isnt Hillary from the south?

    August 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. James of CT

    Mccain better not cheat because getting caught for the 2nd time is not the charm. Mccain if you are late again than you should not be president of this country because it will only show how irresponsible and full of excuses you are.

    August 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  17. therealist

    You would think that a Harvard educated lawyer would have a better answer than "I'll leave it up to a higher pay grade".

    Will that also be his answer to the 3AM call? Are we to expect an Obama President to not even bother to notify us???

    August 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  18. McCain=the draft

    Every chance McCain gets he will shift into war mode and repeat his rehearsed, recycled, stump speech... just like Rick Warren let him!

    By the way, Obama was told NO stump speeches, so he gave FAITH based answers... at the FAITH FORUM.

    McCain gets away easy because of the POW is NOW time to hold him to the exact same scrunity as Obama.

    August 21, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. John in Ohio

    "It's a shame Obama didn't want to participate in any town hall meetings with McCain."
    "I can't believe there are so few debates. Obama is a coward."
    "I wonder why Obama only wanted the 3 debates"
    "McCain wanted to have 10 debates and all he could get out of Obama was 3."
    "Too bad Obama would only agree to 3 debates."
    "Three debates not enough"
    "Too bad Obama went back on his word to hold more town hall type meetings with McCain."

    In 1976 — three debates
    In 1980 — Three debates
    In 1984 — two debates
    In 1988 — two debates
    In 1992 — three debates
    In 1996 — two debates
    In 2000 — three debates
    In 2004 — three debates
    That's 30 years of history there. Why do McCain supporters want special treatment for McCain?

    August 21, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  20. Roger (Dallas)

    When and where is the third debate and hopefully it will be centered around economic issues. McCain has absolutely no clue about the economy and perhaps he can learn some things from Obama.

    I do wish that the two of them could have a debate (similar to the one that Jimmy Smits had with Alan Alda on the West Wing). No holes barred, just the two of them going head to head with the moderator only jumping in when necessary to go to another topic – not these formulated debates with 2 minute questions, 1 minute responses, etc.

    August 21, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. Dan , TX

    I'd rather have McCain or Obama represent America over any of you morons posting here. What a bunch of ignorant comment. None of you is anywhere near as good an American or as patriotic as Barack Obama. None of you is anywhere near as eloquent as John McCain. You shame America with your ignorance.

    August 21, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Sharon ohio

    Obama will only do scripted debates.

    I wonder what he will do if a foreign leader ask him direct Questions, call recess to find someone who knows the answers?

    August 21, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. Scott Tucson

    After Obama's debacle on Saturday, we now know why he refusing the townhall debates, the man can't think on his feet.

    August 21, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. JC

    Of course Obama doesn't want joint town hall meetings and has limited the number of debates to 3. He is best at pre-rehearsed, environmentally controlled environments where he can give flowery speeches. He is not good at debates. Hillary & Edwards mopped the floor with Obama and McCain probably will too.

    August 21, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. Phil

    So any sign of Bob Barr or Ralph Nader? Or will the debates be a sham once again?

    August 21, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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