Well before the first votes of the 2012 campaign are to be cast, the Commission on Presidential Debates has determined the dates and locations for general election confrontations between the major candidates.
The first of three televised debates will be on Oct. 3 at the University of Denver. A town hall meeting-style debate will be held on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. The final meeting, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., will be on Oct. 22 -- just two weeks before election day on Nov. 6.
The vice presidential nominees will debate only once, on Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky.
The nonprofit commission, which has organized the debates since 1987, has also set criteria for participation. A candidate must appear on enough state ballots to mathematically be able to reach the 270 electoral votes required to win, and also poll at at least 15% of the national electorate in five major public polls.
The full format for each debate, along with the moderators, will be announced in 2012.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement that President Obama "looks forward to next year's debates."
The three presidential debates in 2008 between Obama and John McCain were held in Oxford, Miss.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Hempstead, N.Y. The vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden was held in St. Louis, Mo.
There are still more than a dozen debates scheduled between Republican presidential hopefuls, most organized by the major network news organizations.