Political News

How to watch tonight's presidential debate

Less than two weeks from Election Day, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are scheduled to appear onstage for the final general election presidential debate of 2020.

Posted Updated

Kate Sullivan
CNN — Less than two weeks from Election Day, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are scheduled to appear onstage for the final general election presidential debate of 2020.

Thursday's televised event may be the last opportunity for both candidates to reach a massive national audience before November 3. Biden is currently ahead of Trump in both national and key swing state polls -- the former vice president averages 53% support to Trump's 42% in polling conducted between September 20 and October 5, according to the CNN Poll of Polls.

The presidential debate scheduled for last week was canceled after Trump objected to the virtual format announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The virtual format was put forward after Trump tested positive for coronavirus and spent three days hospitalized.

Here's everything you need to know about the final debate, which is taking place in-person in Nashville, Tennessee.

What time is the debate?

The debate is scheduled to run from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ET without commercial breaks.

How can I watch it?

The debate will air live on CNN, CNN en Español and CNN International.

It will stream live in its entirety, without requiring log-in to a cable provider, on CNN.com's homepage, across mobile devices via CNN's apps for iOS and Android, and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Android TV.

You can also follow CNN's live debate coverage on CNN.com, which will include analysis and fact checking.

What are the topics and who is the moderator?

The topics are: "Fighting COVID-19," "American Families," "Race in America," "Climate Change," "National Security" and "Leadership." They were chosen by the debate moderator, NBC's Kristen Welker, and announced last week by the debate commission.

What is different about this debate?

The commission recently announced that Biden and Trump would have their microphones muted during portions of the debate. At the start of each of the six segments, each candidate will be given two minutes to answer an initial question, and during that portion, the opposing candidate's microphone will be muted.

The rule change was made after the first debate devolved into chaos, with Trump frequently interrupting and heckling Biden and the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News. The commission put out a statement the day after the first debate saying they intended "to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates."

The structure of Thursday's debate will be the same as the first debate: Each segment will last about 15 minutes, and the candidates will have two minutes to respond after the moderator opens each segment with a question. Welker will then use the rest of the time in the segment to facilitate further discussion on the topic.

Where is the debate taking place?

It is taking place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Who is hosting the debate?

The Commission on Presidential Debates is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization and has sponsored all general election presidential and vice presidential debates since 1987. The CPD does not receive funding from the government or any political party or campaign, according to the organization.

How many days until Election Day?

On Thursday, it will be 12 days until Election Day (Tuesday, November 3.)

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