The Early Word on the Fall Presidential Debates

The commission that hosts the debates says Nader and Barr most likely won't get a place on the podium.

By + More

The independent Commission on Presidential Debates expects that only Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain will be at the three planned debates this fall and that two fringe candidates—Ralph Nader and Bob Barr—will very likely sue for entry. Briefing reporters on the upcoming debates, the commission's Paul Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf indicated that candidates must score at least 15 percent in public opinion polls, far higher than Nader and Barr have received. The debates may look different from those in the past because candidates will have more time to discuss and debate issues. So far, neither candidate has responded to an invitation to debate at three locations: September 26 in Oxford, Miss., October 7 in Nashville, and October 15 in Hempstead, N.Y. McCain has proposed a series of town halls, but Obama hasn't agreed to those additional debates. Kirk and Fahrenkopf didn't show any concerns about those town halls interfering with the larger, media-heavy debates. They did say that they expect bigger crowds than in the past, because of the public's focus on the election. They also added that the media will have to find their own area to host "spin alley," where aides to candidates talk up their boss's performance.