Presidential debates 2016

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See Presidential Debates for a fascinating history.

Because term limits prevent the incumbent from running, the open seat has drawn a very large number of announced candidates for President in 2016. In part the participation by candidates have validated the legitimacy of the debates and the participation in the debates have validated individual candidates. The Republican National Committee organized a series of televised debates in partnership with various news organizations. Because 2012 resulted in an uncomfortable number of candidates remaining in the contest for the nomination longer than the RNC felt desirable, the RNC adopted a policy to reduce the number of participants based on their standings in national polls. The candidates who did not make the poll performance cut-off were allowed to participate in an "undercard" debate prior to the main dabate. When Carly Fiorina did not have sufficient support in the polls to make the main debate, the protests over excluding the only female candidate resulted in her being included in the main debate.

Debates are very costly to produce and televise. Sponsors, rather than the candidates campaigns, finance these costs. As a result, the rules and format are decided by the sponsors rather than the candidates.

The presidential debates 2016 are as follows:

Republican primary debates

  • Thursday, August 6, 2015 Fox News Republican Debate
    • Candidates 5pm: Perry, Santorum, Jindal, Fiorina, Graham, Pataki, Gilmore
    • Candidates 9pm: Trump, Bush, Walker, Huckabee, Carson, Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Christie, Kasich
  • Wednesday, September 16, 2015 CNN Republican Debate
    • Candidates 6pm: Santorum, Jindal, Pataki, Graham
    • Candidates 8pm: Trump, Bush, Walker, Huckabee, Carson, Cruz, Rubio, Paul, Christie, Kasich, Fiorina
  • Wednesday, October 28, 2015 CNBC Republican Debate
    • Location: University of Colorado in Boulder
    • Sponsors: CNBC
    • Moderators: Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood
    • Candidates 8pm: Trump, Carson, Rubio, Bush, Fiorina, Cruz, Huckabee, Christie, Kasich, Paul
    • Candidates 6pm: Santorum, Jindal, Pataki, Graham

The RNC was so unhappy with the debate that it removed NBC as the sponsor of the February 26 debate.

  • Tuesday, November 10, 2015 Fox Business/WSJ Republican Debate
    • Location: Milwaukee Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • Sponsors: Fox Business Network, Wall Street Journal
    • Moderators: Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, and Gerard Baker
    • Candidates 7pm: Christie, Huckabee, Santorum, Jindal
    • Candidates 9pm: Trump, Carson, Rubio, Bush, Fiorina, Cruz, Kasich, Paul
  • Tuesday, December 15, 2015 CNN Republican Debate
  • Thursday, January 14, 2016 Fox Business Republican Debate
  • Thursday, January 28, 2016 Fox News Republican Debate
    • Location: Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa
    • Sponsors: Fox News
    • Moderators: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace
    • Candidates 7pm: Fiorina, Huckabee, Santorum, Gilmore
    • Candidates 9pm: Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Bush, Christie, Kasich, Paul

Donald Trump boycotted the debate because Fox News had issued a press release that insulted him. Trump also criticized Megyn Kelly as a biased debate moderator. The Fox press release read:

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president – a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”
Instead, Trump held a fundraiser for veterans.[1] Trump together with candidates Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum appeared at an event televised live on CNN, MSNBC and C-Span.[2]
  • Saturday, February 6, 2016 ABC News/IJReview Republican Debate
    • Location: Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire
    • Sponsors: ABC News,, WMUR
    • Moderators: David Muir and Martha Raddatz
    • Candidates: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Bush, Kasich, Christie
  • Saturday, February 13, 2016 CBS News Republican Debate
    • Location: The Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina
    • Sponsors: CBS News
    • Moderator: John Dickerson
    • Candidates: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Bush, Kasich, Carson
  • Thursday, February 25, 2016 CNN Republican Debate
    • Location: University of Houston in Houston, Texas
    • Sponsors: CNN and Telemundo
    • Candidates: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Carson

This debate originally scheduled for February 26. The RNC replaced NBC with CNN as the sponsor and moved the date to February 25. This was as a protest to the questions posed by CNBC at the October 28 debate. Because of the pressure on the other candidates to prevent Donald Trump from locking in the nomination on Super Tuesday, March 1, the debate became a very nasty name-calling contest.

  • Thursday, March 3, 2016 Fox News Republican Debate
    • Aired On: Fox News Channel
    • Location: Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan
    • Sponsors: Fox News
    • Moderators: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace
    • Candidates: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich

Although Ben Carson did not drop out officially until the next day, Carson opted to skip the debate.

  • Thursday, March 10, 2016 CNN Republican Debate
  • Sponsors: CNN, The Washington Times, Salem Media Group
  • Candidates: Candidates: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich

The Republican National Committee had selected Fox News Channel to conduct an additional debate on March 21 in Salt Lake City, Utah ahead of the Utah and Arizona primaries. Fox proposed that Megyn Kelly would be one of the moderators. Trump refused to participate. Based on Trump's refusal, Kasich said he would not come, and then Cruz said that although he was willing to debate either one or both of them, he would not appear by himself.[3] Trump said in an interview, “I will say this. I think we’ve had enough debates. We’ve had 11 or 12 debates. I did really well on the last one. I think I’ve done well in all the debates. I mean, according to Drudge and everybody else, I have won the debates. But I think we’ve had enough how many times can the same people ask you the same question?"[4]

Democratic primary debates

  • Tuesday, October 13, 2015 CNN Democratic Primary Debate
    • Location: Wynn Las Vegas
    • Sponsors: CNN, Nevada Democratic Party
    • Moderators: Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Dana Bash
    • Candidates: Clinton, Sanders, O'Malley, Webb, Chafee
  • Saturday, November 14, 2015 CBS News Democratic Debate
    • Location: Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa
    • Sponsors: CBS News, KCCI, the Des Moines Register
    • Moderator: John Dickerson
    • Candidates: Clinton, Sanders, O'Malley
  • Saturday, December 19, 2015 ABC News Democratic Debate
    • Location: Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire
    • Sponsors: ABC News, New Hampshire Democratic Party
    • Moderators: David Muir and Martha Raddatz
    • Candidates: Clinton, Sanders, O'Malley
  • Sunday, January 17, 2016 NBC News Democratic Primary Debate
    • Location: Charleston, South Carolina
    • Sponsors: NBC, Congressional Black Caucus Institute
    • Moderator: Lester Holt
    • Candidates: Clinton, Sanders, O'Malley
  • Monday, January 25, 2016 CNN Iowa Democratic Town Hall
    • Location: Drake University in Des Moines, IA
    • Sponsors: CNN
    • Moderator: Chris Cuomo
    • Candidates: Clinton, Sanders, O'Malley
  • Thursday, February 4, 2016 MSNBC Democratic Debate
    • Location: University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH
    • Sponsors: MSNBC
    • Moderators: Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow
    • Candidates: Clinton, Sanders
  • Thursday, February 11, 2016 PBS Democratic Primary Debate
    • Location: UW-Milwaukee in Wisconsin
    • Sponsors: PBS
    • Moderators: Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff
    • Candidates: Clinton, Sanders
  • Sunday, March 6, 2016 CNN Democratic Primary Debate
    • Location: Flint, Michigan
    • Sponsors: CNN, MLive, The Flint Journal
    • Moderator: Anderson Cooper
    • Candidates: Clinton, Sanders
  • Wednesday, March 9, 2016 Univision Democratic Primary Debate
    • Location: Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida
    • Sponsors: Univision, The Washington Post
    • Candidates: TBD

General election debates

This schedule was set by the Commission on Presidential Debates long before any candidates were selected.

  • Monday, September 26, 2016 First presidential debate
  • Tuesday, October 4, 2016 Vice presidential debate
  • Sunday, October 9, 2016 Second presidential debate
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2016 Third presidential debate


The ability to persuade voters through debates has now been questioned.


  1. Donald Trump will boycott next Republican debate. The Guardian. Retrieved on February 15, 2016.
  2. "Donald Trump sidelined as rivals debate without Republican frontrunner", January 29, 2016. Retrieved on February 15, 2016. 
  3. "Fox News cancels GOP primary debate", March 16, 2016. Retrieved on March 17, 2016. 
  4. Trump: I Won’t Do FNC Debate on March 21 Due To AIPAC Speech, I Think We’ve Had Enough Debates (March 16, 2016). Retrieved on March 17, 2016.

See also

External links