The Washington Times - July 25, 2012, 02:35PM

Organizers of this fall’s presidential and vice-presidential debates announced Wednesday that they are overhauling the format to allow for more in-depth discussion of policy issues.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said that three of its four debates this October will include time blocks of as long as 15 minutes during which candidates will debate a single topic.


Traditionally, the debates have employed a more rapid-fire approach that has featured more questions but less time for follow-ups and detailed discussion.

“There are serious issues facing this country and the public has the right to expect a serious examination of those issues during this fall’s debates,” CPD co-chairmen Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr. and Michael D. McCurry said in a statement. “The CPD believes this can be accomplished best by focusing big time blocks on major domestic and foreign topics.”

Each debate will last 90 minutes and begin at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Moderators will be selected and announced next month.

The first presidential debate will be held Oct. 3 at the University of Denver and will focus on domestic policy.

The moderator will choose six topics, each of which will be discussed in a 15-minute segment. Candidates will each have two minutes to answer a question on the topic, followed by a discussion lasting the remainder of the segment.

The lone vice-presidential debate will be held Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky., and will cover nine domestic and foreign policy topics, each for 10 minutes at a time.

A presidential town hall forum will be held Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., during which candidates will take questions from undecided voters in five-minute segments.

A presidential foreign policy debate — identical in format to the Oct. 3 debate — will be held Oct. 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.