Tight rules at first presidential debate
October 3rd, 2012
10:09 AM ET
10 years ago

Tight rules at first presidential debate

Denver, Colorado (CNN) – Just what can viewers expect to see when President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney square off at the first presidential debate in Denver Wednesday night?

While the conversation might at-times be freewheeling and off the cuff, both candidates will have to operate under the confines of the hard-and-fast rules established by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Tune to CNN for Wednesday's presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, CNN.com and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.

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These include six 15 minute segments, the first three of which will focus on the economy. The others, according to the Debate Commission, will touch on health care, the role of government, and governing.

Moderator Jim Lehrer will open each segment with a question, after which both candidates will have exactly two minutes to respond. Lehrer is expected to use the remaining time in each segment for quick follow ups and discussion time. The candidates are not permitted to ask each other questions.

President Obama will take the first question and the candidates will alternate after that. The debate is expected to last exactly 90 minutes.

Now, the only question is will the candidates follow the rules.

Filed under: 2012 • CNN Debate • Colorado
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Borderless

    Following the rules isn't exactly Obama's strong suit. While he pretends to oppose big business and support the workers, he is encouraging government contractors to violate federal law (the WARN Act) and not give workers advance notice that they will be laid off and he's willing to back that up by paying the company's legal fees with taxpayer money. As for the workers, well since they won't know until after his election, it doesn't affect Obama. How can anyone support such a heartless, self-centered egomaniac?

    October 3, 2012 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  2. fastrack1

    Ninety minuts of non-answers. Always amazing to see so many words come out of mouths that say nothing. Saturday Night had it right on: Mr. Obama, you can win this by just keeping quiet and letting Mitch talk.

    October 3, 2012 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. bb

    You go President Obama, you go!

    Forward 2012!

    October 3, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. GI Joe

    I want to know 2 things:

    Why were Bush/Cheney never tried for war crimes, and

    Will SaC (voter fraud by republicans) be brought up for Congressional hearings like ACORN was.

    October 3, 2012 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  5. LibertyMan

    This debate is a farce since it does not include Gary Johnson. Gary Johnson is on enough states ballots gain the electoral votes for presidency so why is he not at the debates. CNN and all of the media giants do not conduct ethical polling when they exclude Gary Johnson from the polls and then turn around and say sorry he is not polling well enough wow what a bunch of BS. Stop calling this a debate its a over glorified rigged Q&A session with two candidates crap candidates nothing more. If your tired of the same old bs offered by both democrats and republicans come on over to the Libertarian party where the sane people are. We are the only party, and Gary Johnson is the only candidate, that will end the Wars and BS at Washington..

    October 3, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. GUY

    SO WHAT IS NEW! Both parties have picked and blamed each other this whole year. If our kids acted the way these politicians do, we would punish them severly. Instead they watch these idiots on TV and see that it is ok to be a jerk.

    I will be glad when this campaign is over. I am tired of hearing them blame each other instead of telling me what the hell either of them plan to do with the economy, with civil rights, and my tax money! You can fight over which is the best candidate, but the fact is, they both SUCK!

    October 3, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  7. Lahdee Dah

    Actually, the only question is: will the moderator enforce the rules?

    October 3, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Four and The Door

    These include six 15 minute segments, the first three of which will focus on the economy
    This is not fair! Why should Romney be able to start out 3 to nothing? What? Did he already win the coin toss or something?

    October 3, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  9. judy

    Mitt is a real smart ass so he will not only break the rules but act like he is pandering to the president. Count on it. Forward 2012

    October 3, 2012 10:43 am at 10:43 am |

    Throw the rules out! There are questions the President needs to ask Willard that I'm not too sure the moderator will touch on. Such as Willard's unreleased tax returns and his stashed away money in tax havens.

    October 3, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. MrBeenThere

    Mitt has no rules..... he just makes Sh_t up as he goes along, this should be interesting...

    October 3, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  12. Calif Conservative

    Rule #1 no negative questions directed towards Hussein Obama.


    October 3, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. John Hinge

    CNN tightened their polls this week, Romney now in dead heat. So after the debate, they can drive the numbers back up and declare Obama the winner. How do people not see through this! Please tell me why CNN wants Obama back in so badly. He isn't all that respectful or available with the media.

    October 3, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Calif Conservative

    The left wing media polls obviously lied. The Lame stream media (Including CNN) is beyond pathetic.

    October 3, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Liberal Dem

    This video that has arisen has changed my mind about voting for Obama. This can not be allowed.

    Vote Romney

    October 3, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. Joe

    These "rules" would make the debates pointless if they dont ask eachother things

    October 3, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  17. Wake up People!

    @California Conservative, why must you call the President, Hussein Obama? Why is this President not afforded the same respect that the previous 43 did? You may think you're funny but it really just shows your true colors.

    No matter how any of you think, President Obama was elected legally and he has done his best to bring us out of this abyss that Bush, Cheney and the rest of their klan created with NO HELP FROM THE GOP AT ALL. Now you think we should reward them??? Reward their sorry behinds straight out of office and vote straight Democratic ticket on Nov. 6th.

    OBAMA 2012!

    October 3, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. cwcw

    Question: Is what Obama said true ? Does the right wing media including CNN care if we are still discriminating against poor black folks? There is a class war going on the working man and the poor man are losing, if anyone points this out they are somehow creating this war in the eyes of the right wing media.

    October 3, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Calif Conservative

    Wake up People! – Do you have a problem with the presidents name? If you do it's YOUR problem and not mine.

    ABO. OMG.

    ROMNEY/RYAN 2012

    October 3, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. opionated

     (The following quote was translated into English from an article appearing in the Czech Republic as published in the Prager Zeitung of 28 April 2011).

    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting an inexperienced man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama Presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their President. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the Prince of the Fools should not blind anyone to the vast Confederacy of Fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive the multitude of idiots such as those who made him their President.”

    October 3, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. on the fence

    From my perspective $142 Billion spent on Katrina does not sound like a racist government ( I looked it up). However, maybe it should have been more money or maybe less. The response should have been quicker...however, the issue that I see is that in the video the President blames the government and does so by insinuating that race was the factor....seems like a stretch to the average guy. I can't see it. I love the part where he asks, "Where's your dollar?"

    October 3, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. Wake up People!

    @Liberal Dem... Stop perpetrating, you were NEVER going to vote for President Obama. That video is old and it didn't work in 08 and it won't work now. The POTUS was speaking the truth. If anyone believes all races are treated equally they are crazy. Case in point. We elect our first black POTUS and for the very first time, up pops a crazy right wing tea party group, a Presidents citizenship is questioned, the media and many in Congress refuse to refer to him as President Obama, and the icing on the cake being the secret meeting on the night President Obama is inaugurated to ensure he is a one term POTUS, along with the party of NO saying NO to any and everything designed to move us forward.


    OBAMA 2012!

    October 3, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. Ind.

    Could we get a TRUTHFUL explanation as to why this administration out right LIED about the Benghazi attack?

    Quit burying it with crap news CNN.

    October 3, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  24. onmedea

    Fox News has already declared Mitt Romney the winner of tonight's debate...

    Google: Fox News Declares Mitt Romney Winner of Debate

    October 3, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. Bill from GA

    If Obama could show graphs of Job Loss/Gain since 2007, as well as GDP and the Stock Markets, all recovering tremendously since Obama took office, the show would be OVER.

    Put an end to the republican lies about the failed Stimulus.

    October 3, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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