Four men, four nights, 360 minutes of jabs, grabs and daring political maneuvers. The Final Four of the political season — three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate — is about to begin.
The series kicks off on Oct. 3 with a domestic policy one-on-one. Game 1 will be divided into six sets of approximately 15 minutes each, with the economy dominating the first three sets and health care, governing and the role of government likely to rally in the second half. Players will be allowed two minutes to respond to each question before back-and-forth discussion begins. PBS’s Jim Lehrer will referee.
Game 2 on Oct. 11 will give the vice presidential players a chance to stretch their legs. Covering domestic and foreign policy topics, this match will showcase the players in nine sets of 10 minutes each. ABC’s Martha Raddatz is the evening’s ump.
The arena changes in the third round, when the presidential players go head-to-head in an Oct. 16 town hall. Spectators in the stands will include undecided voters chosen by the Gallup Organization, and there’s no knowing what kinds of questions they’ll throw at the competitors. CNN’s Candy Crowley will call the shots — the first time a woman has officiated a presidential game since ABC’s Carole Simpson reffed in 1992.
After a six-day timeout, the presidential competitors will resume play Oct. 22 for the last match, where they’ll tackle foreign policy. Game 4 will be structured like the first, with CBS’s Bob Schieffer refereeing. Just two weeks before the Nov. 6 winner-takes-all Championship, this round promises to pack some heat.
And now for the players: Barack Obama, 51, is a 6′ 1” Democrat from Hawaii who has spent the last four years training to be president by being president. Mitt Romney, 65, is a 6′ 2″ Republican from Michigan with experience on both the public and private playing fields.
Obama’s pinch hitter, Joseph Biden, 69, is a league veteran. A former senator from Delaware, Biden has been gearing up for the finals by cheering for Obama and trying to avoid unforced errors. His opponent, Paul Ryan, 42, is a policy wonk turned Tea Party heavyweight who is also a representative from Wisconsin. His intense P90X regimen might help him give Biden a run for his money.
The whistle blows at 9 p.m. EST for each showdown. Is the country ready to rumble?