2016 election debate schedule: Here are the dates when Clinton and Trump will face off


Get ready to rumble.

The first of three prime time presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is just weeks away.

The two candidates are set to square off for the first time, face-to-face on the same stage, on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York. NBC News' Lester Holt will moderate the debate.

The second debate is scheduled for Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, co-moderated by CNN's Anderson Cooper and ABC News' Martha Raddatz. It will be in the form of a town-hall meeting, "in which half of the questions will be posed directly by citizen participants and the other half will be posed by the moderator based on topics of broad public interest as reflected in social media and other sources," according to the commission.

The third and final debate will take place on Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. That debate will be moderated by FOX News' Chris Wallace. It will have the same format as the first debate.

All three debates will take place from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

The vice presidential candidates will go head-to-head on Oct. 4. The match-up between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence will take place at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Trump, who consistently criticizes the media, initially said he might not attend the debates. "I'll have to see who the moderators are. Yeah, I would say that certain moderators would be unacceptable, absolutely,"  he said

"I think Lester Holt is a good guy," Trump said in August. Trump has officially agreed to participate in all three debates, unless there's a "natural disaster."

Andy Kropa/AP

"I think you have an obligation to do the debates," Trump told Politico recently. Clinton has agreed to participate in all three debates as well.

What to expect: The first debate will be divided into six segments of 15 minutes each "on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate," according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

"The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic."

Television ratings are expected to be through the roof, as voters tune in to the first debate of this historic election. A good indication is the Commander-in-Chief forum on NBC in New York. The two candidates didn't appear on stage together, but they spoke back-to-back on issues concerning veterans and the military. The ratings were higher than most primary debates.

As for the third-party candidates, the CPD will use several national polls to determine if they get to participate on the main stage. They need to reach 15% of support from voters. So far, neither Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein has managed to reach those numbers in the polls.