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John McCain and Barack Obama agree to debate schedule, format

The John McCain and Barack Obama campaigns just announced they have agreed to a series of debates -- one of them a "town hall" -- already scheduled through the Commission on Presidential Debates. The news here seems to be that the two campaigns agreed to what the commission already has planned.

The agreement calls for three 90-minute presidential showdowns and one vice presidential (players to be named later) debate. The full list with details is below (all begin at 6 p.m. Pacific time). But what's most interesting to note is where the debates will be held -- none in the West.

In fact, only one, at Washington University in St. Louis, will be west of the Mississippi -- and that just barely. So much for the fight for the heart and soul of the Western voter. And expect the announcement to spur some complaints from fringe candidates Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney, who must get 15% or better in national polls to wrangle an invite under rules established by the commission -- which, incidentally, was set up in 1987 by the Democratic and Republican parties.

The list and details from the release are:

First Presidential Debate:
Date:  September 26
Site:  University of Mississippi (Oxford)
Topic:  Foreign Policy & National Security
Moderator:  Jim Lehrer
Staging:  Podium debate
Answer Format:  The debate will be broken into nine, 9-minute segments.  The moderator will introduce a topic and allow each candidate 2 minutes to comment.  After these initial answers, the moderator will facilitate an open discussion of the topic for the remaining 5 minutes, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment

Vice Presidential Debate
Date:  October 2nd
Site:  Washington University (St. Louis)
Moderator:  Gwen Ifill
Staging/Answer Format:  To be resolved after both parties’ Vice Presidential nominees are selected.

Second Presidential Debate
Date:  October 7
Site:  Belmont University (Nashville)
Moderator:  Tom Brokaw
Staging:  Town Hall debate
Format:  The moderator will call on members of the audience (and draw questions from the Internet).  Each candidate will have 2 minutes to respond to each question.  Following those initial answers, the moderator will invite the candidates to respond to the previous answers, for a total of 1 minute, ensuring that both candidates receive an equal amount of time to comment.  In the spirit of the Town Hall, all questions will come from the audience (or Internet), and not the moderator.

Third Presidential Debate
Date:  October 15
Site:  Hofstra University (Hempstead, Long Island, New York)
Topic:  Domestic and Economic policy
Moderator:  Bob Schieffer
Staging:  Candidates will be seated at a table
Answer Format:  Same as First Presidential Debate. Closing Statements:  At the end of this debate (only) each candidate shall have the opportunity for a 90 second closing statement.

-- Scott Martelle

Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

McCain is a PRO WAR> the commenter is right above. McCain only has stories., in the forum he didnt even answer questions. Instead he told stories which he has memorized and repeated at everytown hall meeting he has ever had. Obama might lead to the great depression. But McCain will probably lead to the Great Depression with a side of WWIII. We should probably elect someone who has to at least live with the choices they make in the white house. McCain will be checking out soon, What does he care if he leaves this country in a mess. The US presidency is just a prize to him. I hate the two party system. Obama is right to say McCain is out of touch and a hot head. John McCain does have a temper, I saw the video of him blowing up on a former senator and dropping the f bomb. Y McCain will lose if he picks Romney I guess someone is making a movie about Obama's teenage years. watch video of McCain talking about his failed first marrige at

Obama and McCain refuse to allow Ralph Nader in the debates because they would rather sissy slap each other over minutia than discuss the issues that Ralph will insist on discussing. For more info go to

Obama better be ready to be owned again. He is off his game when he is off his teleprompter. McCain actually does better off the teleprompter than on it (old eyes).

It should be interesting to see how McCain does when he hasn't heard the questions in advance.

McCain is of the ruling-class and he will protect ruling-class interests, not the interests of the everyman. McCain cannot be trusted. If you’re a working-class person who cares about keeping a roof over his head, you’d better do yourself a favor and vote for Obama.

Using the word "owned" in the same sentence as Obama deeply offends me clugs. HA HA just kidding but I am sure someone will cry about it. Long live free speech!

Obama needs Ralph Nader's participation in the debates for two reasons. First, because Nader will hammer McCain and not play nicey, nice at risk of offending the
undecided. Nader knows how to dish it out and -as the Democrats have proven- knows how to suffer abuse. Second, because the only way (THE ONLY WAY) Obama can win is by winning over independents and youth by adopting Nader's positions on domestic and foreign issues. His advisors don't want to hear this, but how many races must the Democrats lose before they wise up? The corporate elite have money on both horses. Only Ralph Nader is not for sale. Racists will cast a secret
vote for their racism.

McCain a member of the working class. Get a clue. We have no class in America. Obama wants ALL of us to be dependent on Government. That is the dream of all collectivists like him and their minions.

McBama is a member of the ruling class.


Unlike Obama who has almost no stories because he hasnt even been in the Senate long enough to have stories, McCain actually answered the questions with his stories and told his heart, unlike obama beating around the bush in order to get everyone to like him, just like a celeb!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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