By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(CLEVELAND) — President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden will face off from a social distance in the first presidential debate of 2020 on Tuesday night in Cleveland, just five weeks out from Election Day.
The first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic comes on the heels of bombshell reporting from The New York Times on two decades of Trump’s tax records, ahead of a contentious Supreme Court confirmation process in the Senate and as the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows Biden maintains a 10-point edge among both registered and likely voters.
The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the race will also be on display as the two candidates won’t partake in a handshake, customary at the top of such events. The size of the audience will also be limited and everyone attending the debate must undergo COVID-19 testing and follow other public health protocols.
The debate’s moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday, selected six topics for Tuesday with each segment expected to get approximately 15 minutes: Trump’s and Biden’s records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in U.S. cities, and the integrity of the election — the final topic coming as Trump over the weekend wouldn’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Here’s the news leading up to the debate. All times Eastern:
Sep 29, 7:15 am
Commission on Presidential Debates: Don’t expect moderators to be ‘fact checkers’
Viewers tuning in Tuesday night may anticipate moderator Chris Wallace to fact check the candidates in real time, but the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) attempted to manage those expectations over the weekend.
“There’s a vast difference between being a moderator in a debate and being a reporter who is interviewing someone,” CPD co-chair Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr. said Sunday on CNN. “We don’t expect Chris or our other moderators to be fact checkers. The minute the TV is off, there are going to be plenty of fact checkers in every newspaper and every television station in the world. That’s not the role, the main role, of our moderators.”
Wallace — who received widespread praise for moderating the third and final 2016 debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton — also said Sunday on Fox News that his job as a moderator is “to be as invisible as possible.”
“I’m trying to get them to engage, to focus on the key issues, to give people at home a sense of, ‘why I want to vote for one versus the other,"” Wallace said.
Sep 29, 5:16 am
ABC News outlines three-hour primetime coverage of first debate
ABC will offer three hours of primetime coverage for the first presidential debate of 2020 on Tuesday evening with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos leading coverage from New York City joined by World News Tonight Anchor David Muir and ABC News Live Prime Anchor Linsey Davis.
A one-hour special, Trump vs. Biden: The Main Event – A Special Edition of 20/20, kicks off network coverage at 8 p.m. ET. The program will set the stage for the critical night for both candidates, reporting on the latest developments from the campaign trail, the stakes for both campaigns and the most important issues to voters across the country.
Pre-show coverage will begin at 7 p.m. on ABC News Live.
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