Donald Trump and Joe Biden are preparing to face off next week in the first of three presidential debates, as a Supreme Court vacancy supercharges the election season and the U.S. continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
The first debate will be held at 9 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, and is hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, in the battleground state of Ohio. “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace will moderate.
Trump and Biden will field questions for 90 minutes, without commercial breaks, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Topics selected by Wallace are the candidates’ records, the Supreme Court, the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, race and violence in U.S. cities and the integrity of the election, the commission said.
Trump and Biden will debate twice more after Cleveland: on Oct. 15 in Miami and on Oct. 22 in Nashville.
Vice President Mike Pence and Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris will have a single debate, scheduled for Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City.
Heading into the debates, Trump lags Biden in polls of key battleground-state voters. In Ohio, Biden has a narrow lead over Trump of just over 3 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics. Biden also led Trump in cash on hand as of Aug. 31.
The first debate will be shown on all the major networks and cable channels, as well as on platforms like YouTube.
The looming showdown for the Oval Office comes amid pressure on the stock market. The S&P 500 SPX, +1.59% has been selling off this month, though the equity gauge is still positive for the year and notched an all-time high on Sept. 2.
Elevating the stakes of the 2020 presidential election is the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week, with a replacement for the venerable Supreme Court Justice amplifying election jitters along with uncertainty over another coronavirus aid package from Congress.
This is an updated version of a report that was first published on Sept. 22, 2020.