The stage for first presidential debate. | Win McNamee/Getty Images
The final presidential debate will focus on the coronavirus pandemic, race and climate change, among other topics revealed by the Commission on Presidential Debates on Friday.
NBC News’ Kristen Welker, who will moderate the debates, will also ask President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden about national security and more abstract concepts, such as “leadership” and “American families,” according to a commission news release. The topics are subject to change depending on how the news cycle turns in the days before the debate, the commission noted.
Next week’s debate follows the commission’s vow last month to alter the format for the events after the candidates’ first showdown descended into a frenzy of cross-talk and personal insults. Though that forum touched on many of the same issues announced for next week’s event — including race and the coronavirus pandemic — it was difficult at times to discern the candidates’ positions amid the angry jabs and interruptions by the president.
The debate between Trump and Biden, set for next Thursday at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., will be the final face-to-face between the two candidates before Election Day. The commission’s previously scheduled second debate, a town-hall style event planned for this week, was canceled after the president’s positive test for coronavirus, a diagnosis that prompted the debate organizers to shift the event to a virtual format. Trump bristled at the change and refused to participate in the debate.
The two candidates opted instead for separate and overlapping town hall forums last Thursday night, where both candidates took voter questions about their respective records. While Biden was asked about his role in the 1994 crime bill, Trump was confronted about his support for QAnon-affiliated candidates and his reported $400 million in personal debt.