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2016 first presidential debate: What time Trump, Clinton face off at Hofstra and more

Hofstra University will host a presidential debate in

Hofstra University will host a presidential debate in September. Credit: Getty Images / Joshua Lott; Joe Raedle

Hofstra University will host the first of this year's three presidential debates on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Here are important details known about the event so far; more will be added as they become available.


The Hofstra debate marks the first head-to-head showdown between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. It will be the first time a woman is on the presidential general election debate stage. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein did not meet the 15 percent national polling threshold they needed to make the cut.


The debate begins at 9 p.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m.


The 90-minute faceoff will be divided into six segments of about 15 minutes each. The three topics chosen by the lone moderator, "NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, are "America's Direction," "Achieving Prosperity" and "Securing America." Two segments will be devoted to each of those topics.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which oversees the event, says the moderator will begin each segment with a question. Each candidate will have two minutes to respond, before they respond to each other. The remaining time in the segment will be devoted to "a deeper discussion of the topic," the commission says.


Clinton has studied policy briefings, done practice runs and studied highlight reels of her opponent's GOP debates as she prepares, her campaign has said. Trump has avoided mock debates, opting instead for policy discussions with a roundtable of his closest advisers, he has said. The Republican nominee has said he does not want to sound too "scripted."


The event will be held on campus in Hempstead at the David S. Mack Sports & Exhibition Complex.

The CPD expects to release 1,100 tickets. Several hundred will go to Hofstra students; more than 7,500 of them have entered the school's lottery. Fifteen tickets will be allocated to students from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, which was the original debate host.

Four hundred student volunteers will staff the debate, performing about 40 different types of duties.

A "public area" outside Hagedorn Hall, including a parking lot, will be open to pedestrians Monday from 3 to 11 p.m. A podium and sound system will be available for speakers, but you had to register by Thursday, Sept. 22. Check out an interactive campus map here.


The school has set up a website at The official hashtag is #HofDebate16.

In mid-September the Commission on Presidential Debates rolled out what it has called "an unprecedented effort to engage the American public in substantive conversations before, between and after" its debates. It will hold three presidential showdowns and one vice presidential debate this fall. Facebook, Google, Twitter (use #debates or #debates2016 to see a special emoji, the commission says), Snapchat, "PBS NewsHour" and Microsoft are among those taking part in debate-related initiatives.


Will this debate be the most watched ever? The Oct. 3, 2012, matchup between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney holds the record, with 46.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen. (The debate Hofstra held that year was on Oct. 16.)


Staging the debate costs $5 million. Three of Hofstra's alumni are footing most of that cost: real estate developers Peter S. Kalikow and David S. Mack, and Lawrence Herbert, former chief executive of Pantone Inc.

Wright State backed out as the host because it could not afford the event.


Hofstra will host predebate programs in the run-up to Sept. 26. They included an appearance by former top Obama adviser David Axelrod on Sept. 13; a conversation with former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who was in the 2016 GOP field, on Sept. 14; and a panel on millennials, social media and the 2016 race on Sept. 19; as well as “Hofstra Rocks the Debate! 2016” on Sept. 24. Check out the full schedule here.


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