It’s time to rethink the presidential debates

It has to find dates that are not on Friday or Saturday nights, do not conflict with sports and other events networks are committed to, or official presidential business, such as attending the U.N. General Assembly in September. Each debate generally requires the candidates to suspend public appearances for at least a few days to prepare.

Finding venues is a challenge, as well, particularly this year. The University of Michigan, which was originally supposed to host the second debate on Oct. 15, backed out earlier this week. University president Mark Schlissel said that with the challenge of trying to reopen the campus safely amid the covid-19 pandemic, it is “not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned.” It has been moved to Miami.

All of this could be simplified if the campaigns would drastically reduce the live audiences who attend the debates — or even do away with them entirely.

The debates would probably be better, too, if they were conducted — as the famed 1960 one between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was — in a television studio. With modern technology, it would be possible even to hold a town-hall-style debate that way.