2020 Vision: Here are the dates and locations of next year's presidential debates

Dylan Stableford and Christopher Wilson
·Senior Staff
Donald Trump listens as Hillary Clinton answers during a presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Oct. 9, 2016. (Rick Wilking/Reuters/File Photo )
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during a presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Oct. 9, 2016. (Rick Wilking/Reuters/File Photo)

Welcome to 2020 Vision, the Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 115 days until the Iowa caucuses and 389 days until the 2020 presidential election.

[Who’s running for president? Click here for Yahoo News’ 2020 tracker]

The Commission on Presidential Debates on Friday announced the sites and dates for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate during the 2020 general election:

First presidential debate:

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, 9 p.m. ET

University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.

Vice presidential debate:

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, 9 p.m. ET

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Second presidential debate:

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, 9 p.m. ET

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Third presidential debate:

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, 9 p.m. ET

Belmont University, Nashville, Tenn.

Additional details, including format and moderators, will be announced next year. As will the participants.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg smiles during CNN's "Equality in America" town hall in Los Angeles on Thursday. (Edward M. PioRoda/CNN)
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg during CNN's "Equality in America" town hall on Thursday. (Photo: Edward M. PioRoda/CNN)

Buttigieg and Warren shine at LGBTQ forum

Over a span of five hours on Thursday night, nine Democratic candidates — Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren — appeared at a CNN town hall focused on LGBTQ issues.

Ahead of the event, Buttigieg and Warren released comprehensive plans for LGBTQ equality. But it was their performances onstage that drew raves.

Last month, Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate to mount a credible run for a major party’s presidential nomination, spoke about coming out for the first time on a national debate stage. On Thursday night, the South Bend, Ind., mayor described growing up knowing he was gay but refusing to accept it.

“It was like a civil war, because I knew I was different long before I was ready to say that I was gay and long before I was able to acknowledge that that was something that I didn’t have power over,” Buttigieg said. “I think you spend so much time as you grow up learning the things that you can control or trying to control things, and there are some things that you don’t. Learning to accept that, and let alone learning that it didn’t have to be a bad thing, that took me a long time.”

Buttigieg, a U.S. military veteran, decided to come out after returning home from Afghanistan, in 2015, during his reelection campaign for mayor. He was reelected with 80 percent of the vote.

“I so admire people who are coming out at young ages, but also recognize that there’s no right age or right way or right time to come out,” he said. “I think people are ready when they’re ready. And for me, I was well into my 20s before I was really ready to say even to myself that I was gay.”

Warren delivered the night’s most viral moment when asked how she would respond to an “old-fashioned” supporter who believes that marriage is “between one man and one woman.”

“I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that. And I will say, ‘Well, then, just marry one woman,’” Warren said, adding: “Assuming you can find one.”

The room erupted into applause.

Biden, who was the first Obama administration official to publicly support same-sex marriage, recalled President Barack Obama's reaction after he unexpectedly made the announcement in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Everybody thought that I had jumped the gun on the president,” Biden said. “I went in on Monday, and all the national press is saying Biden is really going to get nailed when he walks in and sees [Obama]. He got up and he walked over to me, and he said, ‘Well, you told me.’ He gave me a kiss. I swear to God.”

That anecdote was received warmly by the audience. But things got awkward later when Biden tried to make a point about cultural acceptance of homosexuality by mentioning Bay Area bathhouses.

“Back 15, 20 years ago, we talked about this in — in San Francisco was all about, well, you know, gay, gay bathhouses,” Biden said. “And everybody, it’s all about around-the-clock sex. It’s all — come on, man. Gay couples are more likely to stay together longer than heterosexual couples.”

Anderson Cooper, who was moderating Biden’s segment, jumped in.

“We’re going to leave it there, Mr. Vice President,” Cooper said.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the Democratic in Detroit on Wednesday. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard during a Democratic debate in July. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Gabbard threatens debate boycott

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was the last candidate to qualify for next week’s Democratic primary debate. She also might be the first and only candidate to drop out.

In an email to supporters and video message released Thursday, Gabbard said she was considering boycotting the debate out of a protest against “the DNC and corporate media” for winnowing the primary field before voters had a chance to voice their choices.

“There are so many of you who I’ve met in Iowa and New Hampshire who have expressed to me how frustrated you are that the DNC and corporate media are essentially trying to usurp your role as voters in choosing who our Democratic nominee will be,” Gabbard said. “They’re holding so-called debates, which really are not debates at all, but rather commercialized reality television meant to entertain rather than to inform or enlighten.”

Gabbard did not specifically list what the Democratic National Committee was doing wrong in its debate process. The DNC set the bar for entry to the first two debates low enough that it had more than 20 qualified candidates for the two-night events. As it raised the standards for entry, some candidates who might have been expected to hit the polling and fundraising thresholds — sitting governors, senators and the mayor of New York City — failed, while candidates who came into the race with lower profiles, like Buttigieg and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, have already met the tighter standards to qualify for November’s debate.

Gabbard said she would announce her decision in the next few days.

Sen. Bernie Sanders smiles during the Democratic presidential debate in Houston last month. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Democratic presidential debate in Houston last month. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The fourth Democratic debate, previewed

On Tuesday, 12 — or 11, should Gabbard decline to participate — Democrats will gather at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. Although the DNC has tried to limit the number of candidates onstage to 10, the committee opted not to split the debate into two nights.

A few things to keep an eye on:

• This is the first debate since two important moments in the race: Warren catching Biden in national polling and the formal launch of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, which was kicked off by Trump’s efforts to smear Biden over his son Hunter’s business dealings. At an event in New Hampshire, Biden took an implied shot at Warren, whose campaign mantra is “I have a plan for that.” “I want to take that vision and, yes, take the plans and — but that’s enough — it takes proven ability to get things done,” Biden said. “We’re not electing a planner.”

• This will also be Sen. Bernie Sanders’s first campaign event following a heart attack last month. Sanders said he is feeling good but that he would also be scaling back his robust trail schedule. His demeanor and energy will undoubtedly come under scrutiny.

• Many Democrats have complained about the questions asked in the first three debates, as little time has been given to issues like climate change, compared with the endless efforts by moderators to get Sanders and Warren to say that Medicare for All will cause taxes to go up. How much time will be spent on Hunter Biden’s compensation for sitting on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, Sanders’s health and the debunked story that Warren lied about losing a teaching job for being pregnant, versus policy issues?

• Tom Steyer will make his debate debut. The billionaire was an early supporter of impeachment and a late entry into the race, having thrown millions at what some have described as a vanity campaign. Yahoo News’ Kadia Tubman spoke with Steyer last month about his campaign and how he planned to handle the allegations about Biden and Ukraine.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., smiles during a town hall in New York last week. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., during a town hall in New York last week. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Progressive Dem insurgents raking in cash

Last week we noted that Jessica Cisneros, a 26-year-old Texas attorney, had raised over $400,000 in her bid to oust Democratic incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar.

Cisneros is one of several candidates endorsed by Justice Democrats — the progressive group that threw its support behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley last cycle — who had a successful third quarter of fundraising. Morgan Harper, a 36-year-old former staffer at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is running in the Democratic primary for Ohio’s Third District. The district, which comprises most of Columbus, is currently represented by Rep. Joyce Beatty, a four-term incumbent. Harper told the Intercept that her campaign had raised $323,000 in the third quarter, crediting that to the Justice Democrats’ endorsement, an appearance on the Young Turks (a progressive news platform) and a viral response to a New York Times staffer who implied that Harper wasn’t black.

The campaign of Marie Newman, another Justice Democrat candidate, said it had raised $350,000 in the third quarter. Newman is running in the primary for Illinois’s Third, a Chicagoland seat, against Rep. Dan Lipinski, a conservative Democrat who is anti-abortion. She came within 2,200 votes of winning in 2018 and now boasts endorsements from Warren and Ocasio-Cortez. (Warren has also endorsed Cisneros.)

It’s not just challengers who had good third-quarter hauls. Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia flipped a district that had been Republican for 38 years prior to her 2018 victory. That has made Wexton and the 10th District, which stretches from the suburbs of D.C. west into rural Virginia, a target for the GOP. Wexton announced that her third-quarter fundraising total was over $540,000, giving her more than $1 million cash on hand.

President Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Minneapolis on Thursday. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
President Trump at a campaign rally in Minneapolis on Thursday. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)


“From day one, the wretched Washington swamp has been trying to nullify the results of a truly great and democratic election, the election of 2016. They want to erase your vote like it never existed. They want to erase your voice and they want to erase your future, but they will fail.”

— President Trump at a rally in Minneapolis on Thursday

“He’s shooting holes in the Constitution, and we cannot let him get away with it.”

— Former Vice President Joe Biden in a campaign speech in Rochester, N.H., on Wednesday, calling for the impeachment of Trump for the first time

“Don’t tempt me. Do your job.”

— Hillary Clinton, on Twitter Tuesday, responding to Trump’s sarcastic suggestion that she should run for president again in 2020

“I talk about power because you’re not supposed to.”

— Stacey Abrams, former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate, telling Yahoo News why, as a minority woman, she still plans to run for president in the future

“Fox News doesn’t deliver for US anymore. It is so different than it used to be. Oh well, I’m President!”

— Trump, fuming on Twitter after a Fox News poll showed a majority of Americans want to see him impeached and removed from office

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