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Presidential debate formats announced, feature town hall

July 25, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • President Obama and Mitt Romney will square off in three debates in October, including one town hall with an audience of undecided voters.
President Obama and Mitt Romney will square off in three debates in October,… (AFP/Getty Images )

WASHINGTON – The Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday released new details on this year’s presidential debates, offering a look at the rules that will shape President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney’s upcoming rhetorical battles.

The three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate will each last 90 minutes.

The first, at the University of Denver on Oct. 3, will be partitioned into six 15-minute segments, each focusing on a different domestic policy issue to be set by an as-yet-to-be-announced moderator.

Obama and Romney will be given two minutes to respond to the initial question, after which the moderator will divide the remaining time for a discussion between the two.

The lone vice presidential debate will take place Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky., with a focus on foreign and domestic issues, with nine 10-minute sessions broken up in the same question-and-answer format as the preceding presidential debate.

The second presidential debate shakes things up a little bit, switching to a town hall format. The participants, all undecided voters, will be chosen by Gallup. They will ask Obama and Romney about domestic and foreign issues, with each candidate given two minutes to respond. The debate is scheduled for Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

The final debate, on Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., will mirror the first, but will substitute foreign policy for domestic policy.

The 2008 presidential debates began slightly earlier, starting on Sept. 26, and the moderators were former PBS “NewsHour” anchor Jim Lehrer, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer and "NewsHour" senior correspondent Gwen Ifill.

This year’s debate moderators are expected to be announced in August.

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