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Presidential Debate

Presidential Debate

  • Premiered: 
    September 26, 1960
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: ABC
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Talk
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
    General election debates accompanying Vice Presidential Debate 
  • Subject Matter: Political
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Plot Synopsis

During each four-year election cycle for United States President, the candidates for major parties face-off in a series of debates in the weeks leading up to Election Day. The format and topic of each debate is different, and, in consultation with the sponsor, the candidates agree upon all aspects of the debate beforehand. The first televised general election presidential debate took place on September 26, 1960, as Senator John F. Kennedy (D) debated Vice President Richard M. Nixon (R) at WBBM-TV in Chicago about domestic issues. The debate, seen by a combined 66.4 million viewers, was broadcast by all three television networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- from 9:30-10:30pm ET, with CBS News' Howard K. Smith as moderator. Panelists for this debate included: Sander Vanocur, NBC News; Charles Warren, Mutual News; Stuart Novins, CBS. On Monday, September 26, 2016 at 9pm ET/6pm PT -- on the 56th anniversary of the first televised Presidential debate -- ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS and multiple cable news networks debuted a live broadcast of the first of three debates between candidates for U.S. President in the 2016 general election. Moderated by NBC NIGHTLY NEWS anchor Lester Holt at Hofstra University in Hempstead on Long Island, the first debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump will last approximately 90 minutes (commercial free), focusing on three topics: America's direction; achieving prosperity; and securing America. With just six weeks left until the general election on November 8 and with recent polls showing a close race with many undecided voters, this first Clinton-Trump debate is expected to draw more than 80 million viewers across all networks, breaking the viewership record for the 1980 debate between Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Republican nominee Ronald Reagan.
On Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 9pm ET/6pm PT, CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS and multiple additional cable new networks broadcast live coverage of the last of three debates between candidates for U.S. President in the 2016 general election. Moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace at University of Nevada-Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV, the third debate features Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump participating in a debate that will last approximately 90 minutes (commercial free). This debate is divided into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics, including debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots, and "fitness to be president." The moderator opens each segment with a question, after which each candidate have two minutes to respond. Candidates then have an opportunity to respond to each other, after which the moderator uses the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.