The Commission on Presidential Debates announced the moderators and format of this fall’s presidential and vice-presidential debates:
First presidential debate Friday, September 26 The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss. Jim Lehrer Executive Editor and Anchor, The NewsHour, PBS
Vice presidential debate Thursday, October 2 Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Gwen Ifill Senior Correspondent, The NewsHour, and Moderator and Managing Editor, Washington Week, PBS
Second presidential debate (town meeting) Tuesday, October 7 Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn. Tom Brokaw Special Correspondent, NBC News
Third presidential debate Wednesday, October 15 Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y. Bob Schieffer CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent, and Host, Face the Nation
One presidential debate will focus on domestic policy, one on foreign policy, and the second one will be in the town hall format. That means that at least two of the debates (foreign and town hall) will play to McCain’s strengths. A key, as always, will be the expectations game. If, going in, McCain is expected to dominate because of his experience, a fairly competent performance by Obama may convince Americans that he has what it takes to be president. If, however, Americans who haven’t seen Obama before are expecting a rock star performance, they may be surprised to see Obama come off (especially in the town hall format) as pretty aloof and humorless, while McCain, instead of being a boring old guy, connects with the audience, and manages to make the laugh.
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