From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
The three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate were announced today by the Commission on Presidential Debates announced today as follows:
- Friday, September 26: University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS (focused on domestic policy)
- Tuesday, October 7: Belmont University, Nashville, TN (town meeting format with questions from audience members on stage with candidates and additional questions via the Internet)
- Wednesday, October 15: Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY (focused on foreign policy)
Vice presidential debate:
- Thursday, October 2 Washington University, St. Louis, MO (domestic and foreign policy)
Commission officials said they would have liked for a school West of the Mississippi to host at least one of the events, but Washington State -- one of only two Western schools to apply -- turned down the vice-presidential debate. Sixteen schools nationwide applied to host the event, which costs about $1.35 million to put on, commission officials said.
Some format changes were also announced. The first and third presidential debates, as well as the vice-presidential debate, will be comprised of eight, 10-minute "issue" segments.
"This change will also open the possibility of the moderator inviting candidates to question each other," according to a release by the commission. "We want voters to benefit from as full an explanation of a topic as possible, and we feel certain that the candidates will welcome this change for the same reason."
Each of the debates will be 90-minutes long, begin at 9 p.m. ET and moderated by a single moderator. Moderators have not been selected yet. The candidates will be seated at a table with the moderator in each debate, except during the town hall format.
Candidates invited to debate will have to be polling at 15% on average in five national polls (the commission is advised by Gallup) and must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority vote of the electoral college.
Two backup sites were also announced: Centre College in Danville, Kent., and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.