Presidential debate: What time does the Trump-Biden showdown start and how can you watch it?

Matt Mathers and Andrew Naughtie
·3-min read
President and Mr Biden trade blows during first debate (Getty Images)
President and Mr Biden trade blows during first debate (Getty Images)

The third and final debate of the 2020 election will go forward, in person, on 22 October at Nashville, Tennessee's Belmont University. It will air for 90 minutes without commercial interruption from 21:00EST - 22:30EST on NBC. The debate will be hosted by NBC’s White House correspondent, Kristen Welker.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced the topics for the third presidential debate. The debate topics will be: fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership. The topics may not be debated in the order they are listed and are subject to change based on world events.

On Monday, 19 October, the Trump campaign wrote a scathing letter to the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, requesting the foreign policy be added to the debate topics.

The letter, written by Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, reads in part, “As is the long-standing custom, and as had been promised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate."

On 19 October the Commission on Presidential Debates also announced a new rule allowing the candidates’ microphones to be muted while the competing candidate answers the moderator’s question. Each will have two uninterrupted minutes. Trump railed against this change, saying "The whole thing is crazy. It's so set up. It's incredible."

The Presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, did not go forward with their previously scheduled 15 October town hall debate. Instead, the candidates held dueling televised town halls where they each took questions from potential voters.

Mr Trump made a bombshell announcement when he refused to partake in a virtual town hall debate with Mr Biden, following the President’s bout with coronavirus. The Trump campaign has also called for an extra debate on 29 October. Biden’s campaign refused the fourth date, saying it was too close to Election

During a phone-in with Fox Business, Mr Trump said: "I'm not going to do a virtual debate. No, I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate ... [Sitting] behind a computer is not what debating is all about."

Trump’s campaign instead held a solo town hall, broadcast by NBC and moderated by Today co-anchor and lawyer Savannah Guthrie. Mr Biden held his own town hall event on the same night. It was broadcast on ABC and moderated by ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

The two town halls were widely seen as illustrating the vast differences between the candidates. Biden and Stephanopoulos sat in armchairs at the National Constitution Center and talked policy details, down to the numbers.

Mr Trump, perched on a tall stool, assumed his classic contentious style for his town hall. Mr Trump also refused to disavow the anti-Semetic conspiracy cult QAnon, claiming he didn’t know anything about them. QAnon is classified as a terror threat by the FBI.

The vice presidential debate saw Mike Pence and Kamala Harris seated behind plexiglass as a Covid-19 precaution, but any precautions that may be taken at the 22 October debate have not been announced. At the two town halls the moderators and the candidates did not wear masks or use plexiglass, however they were all seated well over six feet apart from each other.

After the final 22 October debate the US election will be held on 3 November.

With Associated Press

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