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2012 Presidential Debates

Schedule of Debates Between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney


Obama And Romney Spar In Final Debate Before Presidential Election
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates has scheduled three debates between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The nonprofit and nonpartisan commission, which is responsible for organizing the debates and ensuring accurate information is provided to voters, has also set one meeting for the vice presidential candidates.

Here is the schedule of 2012 presidential debates:

  • The first presidential debate of 2012 will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the University of Denver in Denver, Colo. The moderator is Jim Lehrer, executive editor of the PBS NewsHour.
  • The second presidential debate of 2012 will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The moderator is Candy Crowley, chief political correspondent for CNN and anchor of the cable network's "State of the Union" show.
  • The third and final presidential debate of 2012 will be held on Monday, Oct. 22, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The moderator is Bob Schieffer, chief Washington correspondent for CBS News and moderator of "Face the Nation."

Vice Presidential Debate

The vice presidential debate between Democratic incumbent Joe Biden and Republican nominee Paul Ryan is being held Thursday, Oct. 11, at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. The moderator is Martha Raddatz, senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News.

Centre College was also the site of the October 2000 vice presidential debate, between Democratic nominee Joe Lieberman and Republican nominee Dick Cheney.

Presidential Debate Format

The Commission on Presidential Debates said the 2012 presidential debates will be moderated by a single individual and take place from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Neither of the candidates will be permitted to give opening statements, but will be allowed 2 minutes for closing statements.

Here are the debate formats:

  • The first debate will focus on domestic policy. The specific topics will be announced several weeks beforehand, and the debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments focusing on each. The moderator will ask a question, and each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond.
  • The second presidential debate will be a town-hall style meeting. Voters will be allowed to ask questions directly of each candidate on both foreign and domestic issues. Each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond. The voters will be chosen by the Gallup polling organization, and are expected to be undecided on their choice of president.
  • The format for the third presidential debate will be identical to that of the first presidential debate. It will focus on foreign policy.

Candidate Selection

Not every candidate is invited by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The commission invites only those candidates who meet all three of its criteria, including the constitutional requirements of being 35 years old and a natural born citizen of the United States and resident for 14 years to run for president.

The commission also requires candidates invited to the debates to get their names on enough state ballots to have a "mathematical chance of securing an Electoral College majority in the 2012 general election." The candidates also must get support from at least 15 percent of the national electorate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates selects five national public opinion polling firms and uses the average of their most recent surveys to determine which candidates get invited to the 2012 presidential debates. The Gallup Organization advises the commission in its selection process.

The commission's requirements for participating in the 2012 presidential debates are likely to exclude third-party and independent candidates including Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who is popular among libertarians.

Site Selection

The sites of the 2012 presidential debates and vice presidential debate were chosen from among a field of 12 applicants to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The colleges and universities that applied, in addition to the four that were selected, are:

  • Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.;
  • Dominican University of California in San Rafael, Calif.;
  • Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky;
  • Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana;
  • Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga, Calif.;
  • The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona, N.J.;
  • Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.;
  • and Washington University in St. Louis.
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