As we mentioned in Starting Gate, the campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama this morning sent out a joint press release concerning their agreement on presidential debates. In the agreement, they lay out the planned framework for the three presidential debates. (The specifics of the vice presidential debate will be worked out once the candidates have selected their running mates.)
Below you'll find the full release on the specifics of each debate. The first and third presidential debates will be broken into nine short segments, while in the second the moderator will call on members of the audience and draw questions from the internet.
The Obama and McCain campaigns released the following statement on the Presidential Debates
The Barack Obama and John McCain campaigns have agreed to hold three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate in September and October sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The campaigns have come to the earliest agreement on presidential debates reached in any general election in recent history. This announcement reflects the presidential campaigns' agreement on dates, locations, and the formats for the fall debates. Campaign-appointed debate negotiators House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said they were pleased to have reached an early agreement to provide the American people with the opportunity to see and hear the candidates debate the critical issues facing the country. The two campaigns have accepted sponsorship of the debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates, subject to the debates being conducted under the terms of their agreement.
Summary of McCain-Obama Debate Agreement
The two campaigns agreed today on a framework for four General Election debates, to be sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Key elements of the agreement are:
1. First Presidential Debate: Date: September 26
Site: University of Mississippi
Topic: Foreign Policy & National Security
Moderator: Jim Lehrer
Staging: Podium debate
Answer Format: The debate will be broken into nine, 9-minute segments. The moderator will introduce a topic and allow each candidate 2 minutes to comment. After these initial answers, the moderator will facilitate an open discussion of the topic for the remaining 5 minutes, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment.
2. Vice Presidential Debate Date: October 2nd
Site: Washington University (St. Louis)
Moderator: Gwen Ifill
Staging/Answer Format: To be resolved after both parties' Vice Presidential nominees are selected.
3. Second Presidential Debate Date: October 7
Site: Belmont University
Moderator: Tom Brokaw
Staging: Town Hall debate
Format: The moderator will call on members of the audience (and draw questions from the internet). Each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond to each question. Following those initial answers, the moderator will invite the candidates to respond to the previous answers, for a total of 1 minute, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment. In the spirit of the Town Hall, all questions will come from the audience (or internet), and not the moderator.
4. Third Presidential Debate Date: October 15
Site: Hofstra University
Topic: Domestic and Economic policy
Moderator: Bob Schieffer
Staging: Candidates will be seated at a table
Answer Format: Same as First Presidential Debate
Closing Statements: At the end of this debate (only) each candidate shall have the opportunity for a 90 second closing statement.
All four debates will begin at 9pm ET, and last for 90 minutes. Both campaigns also agreed to accept the CPD's participation rules for third-party candidate participation.