Don't look for podiums, opening statements or surprise topics at the debates if President Obama and Mitt Romney follow the plan organizers released Wednesday. The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates said debates would be 90 minutes each and feature topics that would be announced ahead of time.
Oct. 3: The first debate, at the University of Denver, is on domestic policy. It will have six, 15-minute segments that would open with a question, a two-minute reply from each candidate and then a discussion. Organizers want the candidates to sit at a table with the moderator, rather than behind podiums.
Oct. 16: A debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., would take the form of a town hall-style meeting. Planners say the questions would come from undecided voters selected by pollster Gallup. Each candidate would get two minutes to tackle the question, with a moderator facilitating a follow-up discussion.
Oct. 22: The final debate, at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., would take the same format as the first, but would focus on foreign policy topics.
Vice presidential nominees on Oct. 11: Vice President Joe Biden is to meet Romney's yet unnamed running mate for a debate on Oct. 11 at Centre College in Danville, Ky. It will include foreign and domestic policy issues.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush thinks Sen. Marco Rubio is ready to be vice president and he shared those thoughts with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he said Wednesday. Bush said he has been a huge fan of Rubio's for years and hopes that Romney chooses him. He said he made his pitch to Romney in a recent conversation, but that the former Massachusetts governor didn't reveal which direction he was leaning. Bush said the choice is a personal one and respects Romney for keeping his thoughts close to his vest. Romney has said he is considering Rubio, a freshman senator who was elected in 2010. Romney is expected to announce a decision sometime before the Republican convention late next month in Tampa, Fla. As far as his own political future, Bush said he has no thoughts of running for any office in the future, staying content discussing policy issues as a non-candidate.
Mitt Romney said that toughening gun control laws was not the appropriate response to the mass shooting in Colorado. But he also said that the gunman should not have had any of the weapons that he carried.
When NBC News anchor Brian Williams asked Romney about the shooter's access to an assault weapon and thousands of rounds of ammunition, he replied: "Well, this person shouldn't have had any kind of weapons and bombs and other devices, and it was illegal for him to have many of those things already," Romney said. "But he had them. And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away. It won't. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people."
Law enforcement officials have said that suspect James Holmes had legally purchased four guns, a high-capacity clip and ammunition. Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, said that when he referred to illegal items, he meant the bombs and other devices that were set as booby traps in the suspect's apartment.
Meanwhile, President Obama said he would seek a consensus on combating violence. He said some responsibility also rests with parents, neighbors and teachers to ensure that young people "do not have that void inside them."