Michigan snags 2020 general election presidential debate

By: - October 11, 2019 11:55 am

Before the second Democratic debate in Detroit | Andrew Roth

Updated, 1:04 p.m. 10/11/19 with comments from Mark Schlissel and Debbie Dingell.

Three presidential debates will be held in 2020 — and one will be in Michigan.

The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced Friday the dates and locations of three general election presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. The second forum on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, will be held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel wrote on Twitter that the university has “led the way in advancing understanding of our nation’s biggest issues” and called the debate an “exciting opportunity to enhance this quality of our public mission.*

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), whose 12th Congressional District includes U of M, said, “This election will be the most important of a generation. It is important that we listen to all sides. Democracy relies on vigorous debate and freedom of speech.

“The University of Michigan is driven by a fundamental belief in the need for open dialogue in the democratic process so its students, the citizens of the State of Michigan, and the citizens across the world engage with and participate in the electoral process. As one of our nation’s premier public institutions, the University of Michigan is uniquely situated to host a debate experience of the highest caliber at this critical moment in our nation’s history.”*


The first debate also will take place in the Midwest. It is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. The third presidential debate is on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

The vice presidential debate is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah.


As the Advance reported in April, Ann Arbor was one of six potential locations the commission was considering. The locations that were not chosen were Hartford, Conn. and Omaha, Neb.*

Michigan has been top of mind this election cycle, with more than 20 candidates campaigning here already. A two-part Democratic presidential debate took place in Detroit on July 30 and 31.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.