The earliest ever start to the presidential debate calendar was announced on Monday by the Commission on Presidential Debates, setting the first debate for the middle of September 2024.
Starting on September 16 at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, the nonpartisan panel that has hosted every general election presidential debate since its inception in 1987 will stage three debates in 2018.
The second debate will take place at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, on October 1, and the third will take place at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 9.
Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania will host the lone vice presidential debate on September 25.
Late September or early October is when the first discussion usually takes place. A second 2020 presidential debate was requested by the Trump campaign when early voting spiked during a pandemic on September 29.
Because of this change, the debates will conclude earlier than they ever have before. Between the final debate and Election Day on November 5, there will be 27 days. The corresponding numbers for 2020 and 2016 are 12 and 20 days, respectively.
However, there is no guarantee that the debates will take place.
The Republican National Committee voted to withdraw from the commission last year, with RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel stating at the time that the commission is “biassed and has refused to enact simple and commonsense reforms.”
Since one of McDaniel’s main complaints was the lack of a debate before voting began, moving them up in the schedule may encourage the eventual Republican nominee to take part.
After then-President Donald Trump rejected the commission’s virtual proposal to have the second presidential debate in 2020 because to fears about the spread of the coronavirus, the event was scrapped. Instead, Trump and Joe Biden, the Democratic contender, held competing town halls.
While the University of Utah hosted the 2020 vice presidential debate, the other three schools will host debates for the first time, with the commission’s co-chairs emphasising that Virginia State University will be the first historically Black college or university to host a general election discussion.
According to the statement released by the commission, each discussion would begin at 9 p.m. Eastern Time and last for 90 minutes without commercial breaks. However, the format and moderators will not be revealed until next year.
A candidate must meet all of the following criteria in order to be invited to the debate: they must be a constitutionally qualified person, appear on the ballot in enough states to obtain a majority of the electoral votes, and receive at least 15% support in surveys conducted by organisations chosen by the debate commission.