The third, and final, presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign will be held tomorrow.
It comes after the wild first debate, and a cancelled second debate that was replaced by duelling town halls.
Here are five things to know ahead of the highly anticipated clash between US President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
1. What time does the presidential debate start in Australia? How can I watch it?
The final presidential debate will be held on Friday, October 23 from 12:00pm to 1:30pm AEDT.
The venue will be Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
The moderator will be NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker.
Like the first debate, it will be divided into six 15-minute segments, each chosen by Welker:
- Fighting COVID-19
- American families
- Race in America
- Climate change
- National security
How to watch the debate: ABC News will be carrying the debate live and free on television and streaming it on our presidential debate live blog.
2. What do we know about the moderator Kristen Welker?
Like the other moderators, Welker is a veteran US politics journalist and has covered the White House since 2011.
This will be the second time she’s moderated a debate this campaign. She was part of a four-person moderator team that steered the fifth Democratic primary debate in November of 2019, which had 10 candidates on the stage.
But we know that Trump and the debate moderators haven’t had the best relationship this campaign, and things aren’t looking good early.
Last week the President tweeted that Welker had “always been terrible & unfair”, a few days after he clashed with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie at a town hall event also run by NBC.
2020 is a rough year for moderators: After the first debate, moderator Chris Wallace said he was “sad the way last night turned out”. The second debate was cancelled, but the intended moderator Steve Scully is currently suspended after a pre-debate Twitter controversy where he eventually admitted to lying about his account being hacked.
3. Did they decide to mute the microphones?
The debate commission announced this week that each candidate will get an uninterrupted two minutes to respond to a question.
During these two minutes, the opposing candidate’s microphone will be muted.
After each has had their two minutes, open discussion will be allowed and both candidates’ microphones will be turned on.
Moderator Kristen Welker won’t have control of the mute button, and will have to try and keep things civil in the open discussion section.
A change of tack?: Speaking to Fox before the debate, White House adviser Jason Miller said Trump would give Biden “a little bit more room to explain himself” at this debate. We’ll see if that means fewer interruptions.
4. Why is a third debate even happening?
As far back as 2019, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced a schedule of three 2020 debates and they’re determined to stick to that schedule — despite threats from campaigns to pull out, and COVID-19 still looming large.
For Trump, turning up to the debate is a chance to change up a race that polls show is slipping away from him with just two weeks to go.
And presidential debates are a way of speaking to a huge number of Americans. More than 73 million Americans watched the first debate, but the Biden and Trump simultaneous town hall events last week were only watched by 14 million and 13.5 million respectively.
For Biden, the decision to still attend the debate is simple — polls after the first debate were bad for Trump and good for him.
His campaign will be looking to repeat the outcome of the first debate and cement their lead with less than two weeks until election day.
It’s definitely happening?: As far as we know. Trump pulled out of the second debate after disagreeing with a decision to make it virtual because of his COVID-19 diagnosis. But shortly after the commission announced the new muting rules, Trump said he would still participate despite it being “very unfair”.
5. When is the US election?
On November 3 in the US, but we’ll start to get results from about noon on November 4 here in Australia.
That’s just 12 days away for those doing the counting. But Americans are already voting. More than 35 million of them have already had a say before this debate will even happen.
This debate is the last big event before polling day in the US and the final time that Trump and Biden will clash face-to-face until we find out which one has been elected president.
During discussions over the cancellation of the second debate the Trump campaign asked for another debate to be scheduled on October 29, but the Biden campaign refused to deviate from the schedule that was agreed to by both parties before the election campaign kicked into high gear.
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