What’s the Format of the Vice Presidential Debate?

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Mike Pence speaks at a Donald Trump rally in Toledo, Ohio. (Getty)

One week after the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the candidates’ running mates are about to face off for the first time at Longwood University in Virginia. What’s the format of the event?

The VP debate will be structured a bit differently than the presidential debate. According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the hour-and-a-half event will consist of nine segments, each lasting about 10 minutes. Those segments will all open with a question, which both candidates have two minutes to answer. The remaining six minutes or so will be devoted to followup questions and to a back and forth between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.

For comparison, the Trump/Clinton debate at Hofstra University was also 90 minutes, but it consisted of six 15 minute segments, so the VP debate will be attempting to work through more material in the same amount of time.

Like the presidential debate, though, the vice presidential debate will also be presented without commercial interruption. You have plenty of ways to watch it, as it will air on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, NBC, Fox, and C-SPAN.

The stakes for the VP debate are not quite as high as they were for Trump and Clinton’s first encounter on Monday, but since there is only one vice presidential debate, these two candidates only have this chance to make an impression on voters. And because both presidential candidates are up there in years, Hillary Clinton being 68 and Donald Trump being 70, some extra scrutiny has been placed on Mike Pence and Tim Kaine in the past few weeks.

The moderator of the vice presidential debate will be CBS News’ Elaine Quijano. This is her first time moderating a debate, and she is also the first Asian American to do so. All questions will be chosen by her and her alone, with none of the questions being seen beforehand by the Commission on Presidential Debates or by either campaign.

Unlike September 26th’s event, this time both of the candidates on stage will have gone through debate prep. According to ABC News, both Pence and Kaine have been preparing extensively for Tuesday night, taking time off the campaign trail to hold mock sessions.


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