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. John in Ohio

    "On Oct. 7, the two will meet again for a town-hall style debate at Belmont University. Moderator Tom Brokaw will call on audience members and pose questions submitted through the Internet."

    Could the people begging for "town hall" debates please give it a frickign rest now?

    August 21, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  2. Tony Z- MD

    McCain's strong points are up first. All Barack has to do is hold his own. Domestic issues are going to hurt McCain.

    McCain's town halls are scripted and he has notes. Rarely is he looking at the audience. Come one the man does not know how many houses he has.

    August 21, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  3. TX Law Guy

    Funny how people accuse Obama of relying on a teleprompter. Whenever I see McVain talk, he's looking down, obviously reading from something - more likely a 4×6 card than a teleprompter, though. I think teleprompters are too new-fangled for him.

    How does 26 years of being on the WRONG side of just about everything, and getting shot down from an airplane, make McVain "experienced," but 20 years of doing good work as a community organizer, state senator, federal senator, etc., make Barack "inexperienced?"

    McVain has been a government employee all his life. Barack has actually worked in the private sector! Seems to me that Barack has more of a variety of experiences - that would tend to give him more useful experience.

    The thought of the GOP being able to nominate more ideologues to the Supreme Court scares the bejesus out of me. Let's try to return to Court to the center, where it belongs, instead of allowing the extreme right to control American law and policy for the next generation.

    August 21, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  4. Lacy

    I'm so excited. After that joke of a forum, McCainanites think John can actually hold his own in a debate! (pssssst, it wasn't even a debate) Which is a joke, because the man can't seem to think for himself, keep his positions straight, or even apparently remember how many houses he owns.

    Obama is the best candidate, and it will show.

    August 21, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Lee

    Here's what's sad. The great majority of comments made here reflect predetermined biases and stereotypes about the candidates' motives, character, and ability. Few offer any evidence to support their views, and few address the actual issues and problems facing the country.

    They say we get the government we deserve. I guess that doesn't leave me much hope.

    August 21, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. WeBoDave

    I'm sure Senator McCain will bluster about things like catching Bin Laden and the U.S.A. winning the war in Iraq. I hope he is pressed on how to catch Osama since he says he knows how and what exactly "winning" the war in Iraq means. Iraqi citizens will be the ones to determine if their country is a stable, democratic USA ally. The US military and US policy can only make it possible for Iraqis to make these choices, the USA can not make these decisions for another country.

    August 21, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Jen Pgh PA

    I'm not sure why everyone is complaining that there are only 3 debates. I mean, who honestly wants to listen to McCain ramble on about the same stuff over and over again. He never has anything new to say when he speaks. Not to mention, he constantly has people telling him what to say. He's not even permitted by his own campaign to speak candidly to press anymore, because all he does is screw things up when he tries to pretend he knows what he's talking about. Also, I can't wait to see what happens when he actually has to provide some knowledge base on these subjects and can't just rely on bashing Obama.

    I don't agree with everything Obama has bring to the table, but I do know that another 4 years of McBush will do nothing but waste more money on countries that we have no business "baby-sitting" (probably with troops we DRAFTED) while he turns a blind eye to the millions of suffering in our own country.

    We need a CHANGE not four more years of McSame!

    August 21, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Belle2

    I always find the comments more interesting than the article. Obama fans are obviously looking through a straw. They already know how the debates will turn out and, after the debates, they still believe, no matter how much it differed from their prediction. There are none so blind as he who will not see!

    August 21, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Nathan H

    Can't wait for these... Obama is a very intelligent, wise man. He graduated from Harvard law for cryin' out loud. His honest, intelligent politics are sure to shine through the Republican fear-based politics and the right wing policy of bigotry and ignorance.

    Obama, restore our standing globally. You think 200,000 German citizens would show up to watch McCain speak? Uh... not likely...

    August 21, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. bertha doucet

    So obama finally agreed to have a debate with John mcain.everybody knows that obama is not a good debater,we saw that with hillary clinton.I hope that obama do not accused mcain of cheating!!!!

    August 21, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  11. ES NYC

    After reading this comments, especially the anti-Obama rethoric, i can safely say that the overall education or lack thereof is well reflected here.

    I say, let's crush the neo-cons!
    When you have such bad judgement as to elect Bush, twice, i do not see any reason why we should take your opinion as sound.
    Gore was "too liberal", Kerry "too french" and Obama "a socialist", and what did they gave us the Republicans? uh?
    They've weakened America in all possible ways: economically, militarily and morally. With such a record, how's anything they say credible?
    Any of you neo-cons can answer that question?

    August 21, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Emmet

    They should make the candidates use the whole 2 minutes. If one gives a 10 second answer, it should be followed by 1 min 50 sec of silence.

    August 21, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain doesn't deserve to share the same stage with Obama. McCain has no moral values and if you didn't see CNN's interview last night with McCain you missed an insight into him that was totally disgusting.

    August 21, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. Ian

    90 minutes? John McCain is going to have to come up with a ton of one sentence answers to fill that kind of time.

    Moderator: "What do you think of abortion, John?"

    McCain: "I'm against it."

    August 21, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. McShame

    Rob-WA....I love it!!!

    Anyone and everyone voting for McShame should all enlist because we will be at war for the next 4 to eight years!!!!

    August 21, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. Lamine

    yes .. Obama .... u the best

    vive Barack Obama ///// U S Amrica + Algeria = group united fource


    August 21, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. RW

    Long as there not in thugville USA, Chicago.
    The last time it was a respectable town was when Alfonse
    Capone was in charge.

    August 21, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Spencer

    McCain doesn't hold water when it comes to debating the issues. And issue #1 is the economy. The man doesn't even know how many houses he owns and he wants to talk about the economy. He is so out of touch with the average American.

    August 21, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. Fight hard now , lots of people want a fighter.

    Here goes a man who want to become future president do not know how many houses he own. wow….that is not a shocker, most people failed to realize that Mccain is just another rich man who do not care about your suffering.

    " America people should go get second job to pay their mortgage, there will be no money for them"
    That meant their housing forclosure issues is not cause by mortgage lender, it is cause by ordinary people who were deceived into getting houses.
    Obama campaign are not doing a good job pointing out McCaflip flipper mispeak or wrong tactice.
    There are lots of tools for the Obama campaigns to use but they have failed to utilize them.

    August 21, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. crooksandliars

    It's not just that he dosen't know how many homes he owns...John McCain is REALLY on the verge of dementia. The debates (if held with out any Republican cheating) should be very telling with regards to this issue, The moderators need to question him with the same vigor they question Barack Obama. America will see how mentally fragile this man is.

    August 21, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Tony

    Maybe Obama should put McCain on the spot in one of the debates and ask if he's figured out how many homes he owns. Apparently, when asked in an interview yesterday by a reporter from Politico magazine, McCain did not know. He said he would have his staff get back to them.

    And McCain claims to have an inkling of what the regular working man or woman faces.

    Typical ignorant, arrogant, self-absorbed, wealthy republican.

    JOHN "MCBUSH", NOT what America needs.

    August 21, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. son of liberty

    Where is the coverage of the other candidates? Is CNN lazy, incompetent or biased? Both Obama and McCain and the rest of the demopublicains are a bunch of collectivist thugs.

    August 21, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. ID

    California Voter August 21st, 2008 9:57 am ET

    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.
    Not true, Obama agreed to 3 but McCain didn't respond.
    Brokaw will be bias.

    August 21, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. Mike - Texas

    Obama said that he would debare McCain any time, any where. McCain proposed 10 debates with Obama and could only get him to to 3??? I just have on word for Obama ( chicken ).

    August 21, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. CJ

    I really am glad there will only be 3 debates and 1 for the VPs. I think the debates in the primaries got too much . Lost the impact they should have.
    Obama just needs to be tougher than he has been . This race is too tight to be a pansy! He is too smart and quick to let McCain run away with the debates , but I felt he let McCain best him on last weeks forum. He was thoughtful and McCain was just short and quick. Time for Obama to do the same , let a yes be yes and no be no. Of course once McCain has to really think on his feet he usually stumbles.

    Come on America and Obama , we need change and these close numbers scare me.

    August 21, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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