WASHINGTON, D.C. – The non-partisan, non-profit Commission on Presidential Debates (“CPD”) announced today that it has applied its Nonpartisan Candidate Selection Criteria for 2008 General Election Debate participation to determine eligibility to participate in the presidential debate to take place at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi on September 26 and the vice-presidential debate to take place on October 2 at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Pursuant to the criteria, which were publicly announced on November 19, 2007, those candidates qualify for debate participation who (1) are constitutionally eligible to hold the office of President of the United States; (2) have achieved ballot access in a sufficient number of states to win a theoretical Electoral College majority in the general election; and (3) have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results.
The Board of Directors of the CPD convened today to apply the criteria with the assistance of the Editor-In-Chief of the Gallup Polling Organization, Dr. Frank Newport. Of the declared candidates, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain were found to have satisfied all three criteria Accordingly, Senator Obama and his running mate, Senator Joe Biden, and Senator John McCain and his running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, qualify to participate in the September 26 presidential debate and the Oct. 2 vice-presidential debate, respectively. No other candidates satisfied the criteria for inclusion in the September 26 and Oct. 2 debates.
The CPD has successfully sponsored the presidential and vice presidential general election debates since 1988. The CPD’s planning for the 2008 debates has extended over a period of years and has drawn upon the CPD’s now-extensive experience in sponsoring general election debates. On November 19, 2007, the CPD announced the four dates and locations for this year’s debates, and on August 5, 2008, the CPD announced the four journalists who will moderate those debates: Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, Tom Brokaw and Bob Schieffer. The CPD is firmly committed to providing, in a professional and nonpartisan manner, debates in 2008 that will allow the American public to view the leading presidential and vice presidential candidates discuss the issues facing the country.
The candidates who have qualified to participate today previously have committed to participate in the debates sponsored by the CPD.