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Commission sets three presidential debates for Oct. 2012

President Obama and his eventual Republican opponent will square off for a trio of debates next October in Colorado, New York, and Florida.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonpartisan commission that sets the schedule of debates, announced the schedule and setting for three presidential debates, and the lone vice presidential debate of the 2012 cycle.

Obama and his would-be Republican challenger will debate Weds., Oct. 3 at the University of Denver, Tues., Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in metropolitan New York, and on Mon., Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. The Hofstra debate will be a town hall meeting-style format.

The vice presidential debate will be held Thurs., Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky.

Two of the three presidential debates take place in swing states -- Colorado and Florida -- that Obama won in 2008. The backup site for a debate, Washington University in St. Louis, is in Missouri, is in a state won by Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) in the last presidential election.

"The president looks forward to next year’s debates," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement. "Once the Republicans have selected their candidate, we will work through the details with their campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates."

The commission also released criteria through which a third party candidate could make his or her way onstage in the debates. In order for a third party candidate to qualify, they would have to be constitutionally eligible, score above 15 percent in recognized national polls, and qualify to appear on enough ballots to conceivably win a majority of votes in the Electoral College.