What Time is the Presidential Debate Tonight?


President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will face off in their second presidential debate of the 2012 election on Tuesday, to be held at Hofstra University in Long Island at 9:00 p.m. Unlike the first debate held between the two candidates, this contest will be held town hall style, with questions from the audience, a format which is likely to make this a very different contest than the first debate in Denver.

Ahead of Tuesday's showdown, which is likely to draw an audience of over 50 million viewers nationwide, here's everything you need to know:

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Time and Schedule

The debate will be 90 mins long and is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. and run until 10:30 p.m. It will be held at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, before an audience of approximately 80-85 participants. The debate will be hosted by CNN and moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley.

This is the second presidential debate (and third of election 2012, including the vice presidential debate). The third and final presidential debate will take place in Boca Raton on October 22, and will focus on foreign policy.

Format and Questions

Unlike the Denver debate, which featured both candidates at a podium, this debate is town hall-style, which means it will feature approximately 12-16 questions from audience members. The Debate Commission is using Gallup to pick the audience: all audience members are uncommitted, registered voters from Nassau County who say they plan to vote in the election. The sample includes a variety of incomes, races, and political persuasions, and was selected from a random sample using landlines and cell phones. People who want to ask a question will submit questions to moderator Candy Crowley, who will screen the questions to eliminate duplication and include a balance of both domestic and foreign policy questions.

The debate will likely touch on the economy as well as foreign policy.

Moderator Controversy

According to The Daily Caller, "Both campaigns have expressed concern to the Commission on Presidential Debates about how the moderator of this Tuesday’s town hall has described her role." Crowley has held a series of interviews in which she has suggested that she take a more active moderating role than the campaigns would like. Crowley said, “Once the table is kind of set by the town-hall questioner, there is then time for me to say, ‘Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, Z?’” The campaigns are hoping for a more limited role for the moderator.

How the Campaigns Are Preparing

After his timid performance in Denver, Obama is planning to be more aggressive and energetic in this debate. He is expected to raise questions about Romney's work at Bain Capital. Campaign adviser Robert Gibbs told "State of the Union" on Monday, "Obviously, the president was disappointed in his own performance. He didn't meet his expectations. I think you'll see somebody who's very passionate about the choice that our country faces - and putting that choice in front of voters." Political strategist Anita Dunn has been playing Candy Crowley in Obama's debate preparation.

Meanwhile, Romney has been holding practice sessions, in which he has focused on his mannerisms and body language. Politico reports: "Romney has been warned not to physically back away from a questioner, but to lean in as if having a one-on-one conversation."

Where to Watch

PolicyMic will be live streaming the debate, so be sure to check back for real-time analysis and updates.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to properly cite language that was originally used without attribution to Politico and The Daily Caller. We apologize to our readers for this violation of our basic editorial standards. Mic has put in place new mechanisms, including plagiarism detection software, to ensure that this does not happen in the future.