The first presidential debate of the 2020 election season is set for Tuesday, September 29. President Donald Trump will square off against his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, in what will surely be one of the most talked about events of this contentious political season.
Details of the Debate: This first debate is scheduled for 9 pm ET at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace is set to be the moderator for the debate.Read More »
Topics to be Covered: Earlier in the week, Wallace released the list of topics that he plans to cover during the debate. Viewers can expect to see these issues during the 90-minute event.
- Trump and Biden Personal Records
- The Supreme Court and the Impending Confirmation Hearings
- The Ongoing COVID-19 Global Pandemic
- The State of the Economy and Each Candidate’s Plan
- Race Relations and Escalating Violence in American Cities
- The Integrity of the Presidential Election
The upcoming debate will be divided into these six distinct segments, with each portion expected to last approximately 15 minutes. Wallace will introduce the topic and give each candidate two minutes to state their opinion on the issue. Following these opening statements, Wallace will facilitate the discussion between the two participants. The goal is that both Trump and Biden will get equal time discussing each issue before moving on to the next topic of discussion.
How Will COVID-19 Affect the Debate: There is no doubt that the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis is being felt throughout the election. The face of the debates will also look differently as organizers look to take responsible steps to mitigate the spread of the virus. One of the most significant changes will be obvious to viewers right away when Trump and Biden forego the traditional handshake greeting at the start of the debate. The two men will also not shake hands with Wallace. The participants will not wear masks when on stage.
According to Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, an average audience at the site of a debate is approximately 900 people. However, this first debate will only allow 60 – 70 audience members inside the hall. Everyone attending the debate will adhere to COVID-19 testing prior to the event.
Both Melania Trump and Jill Biden will be in attendance at the debate hall. In contrast to previous years, there will be no dedicated media room for supporters and representatives of each party to spin the content of the debate to those covering the event.
Prep Work and Strategies: It is widely recognized that sitting presidents often struggle during the first debate. Because the current president has to naturally defend their record and policies, the challenger gets the benefit of having a built-in upper hand.
In addition, the sitting president does not generally have as much time to prepare for the debate simply due to the demands of their ongoing job of running the country. This is particularly true in Trump’s case this year. With the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg kicking off the hunt for a replacement, the COVID-19 crisis, and the recent bombshell news that alleges years of tax evasion by the president, there is no shortage of issues that Trump is currently busy trying to contain.
It stands to reason that Biden has more time to prepare for the upcoming debates. Close advisers to Biden have been encouraging the former vice president to stay on task and try to avoid diving too deep into complex policy issues while on stage. The goal of Biden’s team seems to be to pin Trump against the wall while questioning his integrity and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, it has been clear for months that Trump’s strategy will try to paint Biden as old and tired. The president and his public relations team have been downplaying Biden’s cognitive abilities in advertisements and on social media. Look for Trump to continue to portray Biden as being low-energy and not up for the rigors of the office. If the 2016 election season taught the country anything, it is that Trump will pull no punches when going after his opponent with no shortage of insults on the debate stage.
Upcoming Debate Schedule: Tuesday’s debate is the first of three presidential debates. In addition, there is a scheduled debate between the two vice-presidential candidates, incumbent Republican Mike Pence and his opponent, Democratic Senator Kamala Harris. Here are the rest of the debates to put on your schedule.
- Thursday, October 15 – Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida. The second presidential debate is set to start at 9 pm ET with Steve Scully of C-SPAN serving as host. This event will run in a town hall format.
- Thursday, October 22 – Curb Event Center at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The third and final presidential debate will begin at 8 pm CT with Kristen Welker of NBC serving as the moderator.
- Wednesday, October 7 – Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. The first and only vice presidential event will start at 7 pm MT with Susan Page of USA Today receiving the honor of moderator.
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