2020 Presidential Race

First Presidential Debate: How to Watch, Start Time, and Topics Trump and Biden Will Face

Tune in to NBC News or MSNBC Tuesday night to see Trump and Biden face off

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Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump will go head to head Tuesday night in the first presidential debate.

From how to watch the debate to where candidates will be, here is what you need to know:

What time is the debate?

The first presidential debate is Tuesday night from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Where can I watch the debate?

The 90-minute debate will air live on NBC National News and MSNBC. It will also be livestreamed here.

NBC News NOW will begin coverage starting at 7 p.m., available to stream online or through Peacock.

Who is moderating?

Fox New Channel's Chris Wallace will moderate Tuesday's debate.

Where is the live debate taking place?

Biden and Trump will take the stage at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Initially, the debate was scheduled to be at the University of Notre Dame until the school withdrew due to coronavirus concerns.

The audience will consist of just 80 to 100 invited guests, all of whom were tested for the coronavirus prior to the debate.

What is the format of the debate?

This first debate will include no opening statements from either party. Trump and Biden will be at each podium on stage facing the audience, while Wallace will sit facing the two.

Wallace broke up the debate into the following six segments, each lasting 15 minutes: Trump and Biden's records; the Supreme Court; COVID-19; the economy; race and violence in American cities; and the integrity of the election.

Trump will receive the first question and each candidate will have two minutes to answer. Both will have an opportunity to respond to the other.

When is the next debate?

There will be two more presidential debates on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22, the latter of which will be hosted by NBC's Kristen Welker.

Vice President Mike Pence will face Sen. Kamala Harris on Oct. 7 in Utah for the vice presidential debate.

What are analysts saying?

Political analysts across the country have been debating expectations of tonight, but most can agree on one thing: this will be a debate like no other.

In the past, Trump has defined and denigrated his opponents using nicknames and a "say-anything" debate style, creating numerous controversies. This year, the president may have to do more to defend his record on issues such as his handling of the coronavirus and his previous tax returns.

Shepard Smith talks about the New York Times’ investigation into President Donald Trump’s finances and the first debate between the president and Joe Biden.

“He was successful in making the race more about Hillary Clinton in 2016 than it was about himself,” Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster, said. “This year it’s been a struggle to do that.”

Biden will face Trump Tuesday night holding a lead in the polls, but many politicians expect him to do more than defend his platform.

“This will be the first moment in four years that someone will walk on stage as co-equal to Trump and be able to hold him to account for the malfeasance he has shown leading the country,” Steve Schmidt, senior campaign aide for John McCain’s 2008 Republican presidential bid, said. “If Biden is unable to indict Trump for all that he has done, (that) would be profound failure. There is no spinning that away.”

Experts have said other recent news could dominate the debate stage such as the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Gindburg and the protests that have surrounded the death of George Floyd earlier this year.

However, because of the current health emergency overwhelming the U.S., many have voiced that much of the discussion Tuesday night will focus on both Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and Biden's plans to combat the virus.

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