Sep 2, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., Dorothy S. Ridings and Kenneth Wollack, co-chairs of the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), today announced the moderators for the 2020 general election presidential and vice presidential debates. The moderators, and the schedule and locations for the debates (as previously announced), are as follows:
First presidential debate:
Chris Wallace, Anchor, Fox News Sunday
Tuesday, September 29, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
Vice presidential debate:
Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief, USA Today
Wednesday, October 7, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Second presidential debate (town meeting):
Steve Scully, Senior Executive Producer & Political Editor, C-SPAN Networks
Thursday, October 15, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, FL
Third presidential debate:
Kristen Welker, Co-Anchor Weekend TODAY, White House Correspondent, NBC News
Thursday, October 22, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
Fahrenkopf, Ridings and Wollack said that, “We are grateful to these experienced journalists, who will help ensure that the general election presidential debates continue to serve their unique educational purpose of helping the public learn about the candidates. Each individual brings great professionalism to moderating and understands that the purpose of the 2020 debate formats is to facilitate in-depth discussion of major topics.”
The format for the debates, announced on June 23, 2020, will be:
First presidential debate
The debate will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.
The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.
Vice presidential debate
The debate will be divided into nine segments of approximately 10 minutes each. The moderator will ask an opening question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.
Second presidential debate
The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the questions will be posed by citizens from the South Florida area. The candidates will have two minutes to respond to each question and there will be an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate further discussion. The town meeting participants will be uncommitted voters selected under the supervision of Dr. Frank Newport, Senior Scientist, Gallup.
Third presidential debate
The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate.
All debates will be moderated by a single individual and will run from 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time without commercial breaks. As always, the moderators alone will select the questions to be asked, which are not known to the CPD or to the candidates. The moderators will have the ability both to extend the segments and to ensure that the candidates have equal speaking time. While the focus will properly be on the candidates, the moderator will regulate the conversation so that thoughtful and substantive exchanges occur.
This year’s debates will build on the successful 2012 and 2016 debate formats which introduced longer segments, allowing the candidates to focus on critical issues.
The CPD is a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)3 organization and has sponsored and produced all presidential and vice presidential debates since 1987, the year it was established. For more information, please visit www.debates.org.