OUR OPINION: Presidential debates offer candidates direct and live

By NEMS Daily Journal

The close of two consecutive weeks of national political conventions sets the stage for two months of intense campaigning by GOP standard bearer Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, the Democrat seeking a second four-year term.
The significant responsibility for the nation’s voters is discerning truth from fiction in the expected avalanche of campaign advertising from both political parties – virtually all of them from both sides slanted to particular viewpoints, with some of them outright distortions.
One of the reliable sources of information direct from the candidates is the series of debates scheduled from Oct. 3 through Oct. 22, with the Oct. 11 debate bringing vice presidential candidates, Rep. Paul Ryan of the GOP against Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat.
The major networks and public broadcasting are expected to carry the debates live:
Oct. 3, Obama/Romney
Topic: Domestic policy, 8 p.m. CDT from Denver, Colo.
Moderator: Jim Lehrer (Host of NewsHour on PBS)
The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a discussion of the topic.

Oct. 11, Vice PresidentialJoe Biden and Paul Ryan
Topic: Foreign and domestic policy 8 p.m. CDT, from Danville, Ken.
Moderator: Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent)
The debate will cover both foreign and domestic topics and be divided into nine time segments of approximately 10 minutes each.

Oct. 16, Obama/Romney
Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy, 8 p.m. CDT from Hempstead,, N.Y.
Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)
The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. Candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.

Oct. 22, Obama/Romney
Topic: Foreign policy 8 p.m. CDT Boca Raton, Fla.
Moderator: Bob Schieffer (Host of Face the Nation on CBS)
The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate and will focus on foreign policy.

All of the debates are sponsored by the independent, non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, and all are hosted by universities or colleges extensively evaluated to be a host institution.
The debates offer the best opportunity for voters to hear it live directly from candidates.