Next presidential debate set for Oct. 22 after town hall event canceled

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Thursday, October 8, 2020
Analysis: Contentious clashes between Trump, Biden fill debate
Debate analysis: After more than a year of circling each other, Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden met on the debate stage Tuesday night in Ohio.

WASHINGTON -- The second presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden is officially off.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates confirmed Friday that the Oct. 15 faceoff would be scrapped. The decision was made a day after the commission announced the debate would take place "virtually" because Trump had contracted the coronavirus.

Trump balked at holding the debate in that format, and Biden scheduled a town hall with ABC News for that night once Trump said he would not participate.

A final presidential debate -- what would have been the fourth overall on the schedule including the vice presidential debate and the scrapped town hall -- is currently slated for Thursday, Oct. 22.

SEE ALSO: Highlights from vice presidential debate

Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris traded barbs through plexiglass shields Wednesday night in a debate dominated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's everything we know about the 2020 presidential debates:

When and where are the debates?

All four debates are 90 minutes in length and are running from 9:00 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT/ 6 p.m. PT until 10:30 p.m. ET/9:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. PT.

  • Sept. 29: First presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Oct. 7: Vice presidential debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Oct. 15: Original date of second, now-canceled presidential debate at Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida. Was announced as a virtual event before Trump pulled out and Biden committed to a different town hall on ABC
  • Oct. 22: Third and final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee
  • Who are the moderators?

    According to the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, the moderators are:

  • Chris Wallace of Fox News moderated the first debate
  • USA Today's Susan Page moderated the vice presidential debate
  • Steve Scully of C-SPAN for the now-canceled "town meeting" debate on Oct. 15
  • NBC's Kristen Welker for the debate on Oct. 22
  • SEE ALSO: Highlights from first presidential debate

    First presidential debate between Trump, Biden: VIDEOS (1 of 13)

    Will the CPD make changes after Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis? After the chaotic first debate?

    The now-canceled second Trump-Biden debate shifted to a 'virtual' format amid concerns about the president's COVID-19 diagnosis, the nonpartisan host of the debates announced Thursday.

    The candidates were scheduled to "participate from separate remote locations," while the participants and moderator remain in Miami. Trump's campaign, however, said it will "pass" on a virtual town hall and schedule a rally instead, leading Biden to commit to an ABC News town hall event that same night.

    The CPD has not announced changes to the final debate.

    The Sept. 29 presidential debate deteriorated into bitter taunts and near chaos, with Trump in particular repeatedly interrupting Biden and talking over the moderator, Chris Wallace.

    A day later, the commission released a statement saying it will consider changes to the debate format and will announce those shortly.

    "The Commission on Presidential Debates sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate. Last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," the statement read.

    What will the debates look like?

    The 2020 debates are following similar formats used in 2012 and 2016.

    The "town hall" debate

    The now-canceled second presidential debate would have looked similar to a town hall even with Trump and Biden answering questions from uncommitted Miami-area voters selected under the supervision of Dr. Frank Newport from the global analytics firm Gallup.

    First and final debate

    The first and third presidential debates are divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Those topics will be announced at least one week before each debate.

    Candidates will have two minutes to respond to the moderators' questions.

    Vice presidential debate

    The debate was divided into nine 10-minute segments. Pence and Harris each had two minutes to respond.

    The candidates will have two minutes to answer each question, and the moderator will have an additional minute to facilitate further discussion.

    How will the coronavirus pandemic impact the debates?

    Before the president's COVID-19 diagnosis, debate organizers followed several health and safety protocols for the pandemic.

    Ticketing is extremely limited for all events. Seating will also promote social distancing.

    The CPD said it will follow all CDC, state, county and site health and safety protocols at the four debate sites, with the Cleveland Clinic serving as its health security advisor.

    The University of Notre Dame announced in July it would withdraw from hosting the first presidential debate in September due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The venue was rescheduled to Case Western Reserve University.

    The second presidential debate was also originally scheduled elsewhere. The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, announced in June that it could not safely hold the debate, so it was moved to the 525,000-square-foot Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.