It seems like the 2020 election has been going on forever, but we’re finally in the home stretch because we’re about to have our firstpresidential debate of the general election. That’s right–Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump will face off on Tuesday, September 29th. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Is it happening?

Obviously, with a pandemic and a lot of political unrest, there have been questions about whether this debate will happen or not. As of the writing of this article, it’s on. Both parties have had people saying they shouldn’t debate, or should debate in a different format, etc. Things will definitely look a little different because of the pandemic, but we can still expect to hear from zingers and have the next week of cable news covering who they think won and why. 

The Commission on Presidential Debates has scheduled several debates and said nothing about canceling them, so don’t let the Twitter feed make you think that’s coming down the pipeline. While both candidates may have different reasons for wanting a debate or not, either would be roundly criticized if they tried to back out. 

How can I watch and when?

The first presidential debate will be held at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. It will be broadcasted on all the major channels starting at 9PM Eastern time. You’ll likely be able to watch on C-SPAN, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News as well as ABC, NBC, and CBS. Trust me, it’ll be harder to miss it than to watch it.

The debate is scheduled to run for 90 minutes.  

Who is moderating?

Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, will be hosting the first presidential debate.

Future debate hosts include:

    • USA Today’s Susan Page (VP Debate)

    • C-SPAN’s Steve Scully (Debate 2)

    • NBC’s White House Correspondent Kristen Welker (Debate 3)

It’ll definitely be an interesting job to have this election cycle!

How is it going to be structured?

According to the Commissions’ website,

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.”

Let’s see if that sticks. Chris Wallace is a tough guy, but Trump and Biden aren’t known for their succinctness. 

What happens after that?

This is the first presidential debate, but ideally it won’t be the last. Pandemic permitting, as per always, there is a vice presidential debate scheduled between Kamala Harris and Mike Pence on October 7th, a 2nd debate, town hall style, between Biden and Trump on October 15th, and a final debate between the two top candidates on October 22nd. 

Oh, and after that—vote! 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member