SOUTH BEND — For the first time, the University of Notre Dame will host a U.S. presidential debate, a decision announced Friday by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
The debate at Notre Dame on Sept. 29 will be the first in the 2020 election series. It will take place in the Purcell Pavilion of the Joyce Center.
“The heart of democracy is addressing significant questions in open, reasoned discussion that will inform voters as they prepare to cast their votes,” University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, also a member of the board of the Commission on Presidential Debates. “Standing apart from the glitz and spin of modern campaigns, the presidential debates are that solemn moment in our national life when candidates are invited to discuss seriously the central issues before us.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and has sponsored all general election presidential and vice presidential debates since 1988.
“Notre Dame, along with the South Bend-Mishawaka-Elkhart region, will be in the global spotlight as a debate host,” Jenkins said. “We will work closely with our community partners so that the region is ready to shine for our guests from around the country and the world.”
Notre Dame has a long history of welcoming sitting presidents, vice presidents and candidates for national office for various speaking engagements and ceremonies. Nine U.S. presidents have been awarded Notre Dame honorary degrees, and six have addressed graduates at the University Commencement Ceremony, the most of any college or university in the country.
The commission on Friday announced sites and dates for three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. The other presidential debates are set for Oct. 15 at the University of Michigan and Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
One vice presidential debate has been scheduled, for Oct. 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
To qualify for the debates, candidates must appear on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority in the Electoral College, and have at least 15 percent support nationally in five national polls chosen in advance by the commission.