2012 Presidential Debate Sites to Be Named in November

Posted October 26, 2011 at 8:30pm

The Commission on Presidential Debates will announce the sites and dates for the general election debates next month, and officials are considering freshening up the debate format to recognize the changing world of technology.

Commission Executive Director Janet Brown said Wednesday the idea was to make the format “fresh, engaging and new” but without gimmicks. “We’ll steer clear of snowmen,” she said, referencing the 2007 YouTube debates during which a citizen sent in a video question from a snowman about climate change.

“We’re looking at everything,” Brown told a small group at a lunch hosted by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center and the Institute of Politics. Brown offered few hints about what ideas are under consideration but said she was not sure that a question to a presidential nominee is better if it is asked via Twitter. She said any new ideas will maintain the dignity of the format.

“I don’t think this is the time for something that looks like ‘The Gong Show, ‘Entertainment Tonight’ or ‘Survivor,’” she said.

Brown said the nonpartisan nonprofit commission is “very far along” in the planning process. The locations and dates will be announced in November, less than a year before the elections, but the moderators will not be announced until summer 2012.