When Are the 2020 General Election Debates?

The 2020 presidential election has been anything but predictable. After months and months of primary debates, former Vice President Joe Biden emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee, but not before the coronavirus pandemic dramatically altered almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Right now, primary elections in certain states have been postponed. The Democratic National Convention has been postponed. Campaign rallies have gone virtual and more states are encouraging people to vote by mail, all in order to comply with social distancing measures and avoid large crowds.

But even with so much uncertainty, there will be an election come November and there will be more presidential debates. Below, all the dates you need to know, so you can continue with your existential dread mark your calendars. (And remember, election day is Nov. 3.)

When are the general election presidential debates?

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that there will be a total of three general election presidential debates this year, all taking place in states President Trump won in 2016. The debates will start at 9 P.M. and run for 90 minutes without any commercial breaks.

  1. Sept. 29 at the University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana)
  2. Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
  3. Oct. 22 at Belmont University (Nashville, Tennessee)

What about the vice presidential debate?

There will also be one vice presidential debate, which will take place a month out from the 2020 presidential election. It will also be in a state Trump won in 2016.

  1. Oct. 7 at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)

What will the debates look like?

Though it’s still unclear if the debates will be any different due to COVID-19, the final Democratic primary debate may have been a preview of what’s to come. During that March debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Biden debated without an audience, refrained from shaking hands, and stood six feet apart from each other.

Will Trump actually debate?

In short: Yes. Back in December, there was a New York Times report that said Trump was “discussing with his advisers the possibility of sitting out the general election debates in 2020 because of his misgivings about the commission that oversees them.”

Trump then took to Twitter to explain: “I look very much forward to debating whoever the lucky person is who stumbles across the finish line in the little watched Do Nothing Democrat Debates.”

“The problem is that the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers,” he wrote. “As President, the debates are up….to me, and there are many options, including doing them directly & avoiding the nasty politics of this very biased Commission. I will make a decision at an appropriate time but in the meantime, the Commission on Presidential Debates is NOT authorized to speak for me (or R’s)!”

Then this February, Trump told reporters, “Yeah, sure. I look forward to it, actually,” when asked if he would debate the Democratic nominee.

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