Opinions may vary as to who "won" or who "lost" but voters across America got their first opportunity last week to see the two major party candidates go head to head in the opening presidential debate.
Moderated by Lester Holt of NCB Nightly News, the issues-related forum was hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit established in 1987 "to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners."
Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton answered questions on the pre-announced topics of "America's Direction," "Achieving Prosperity" and "Securing America."
They also were allowed to respond to, or rebut, each other's comments and they did so in a markedly different manner, giving viewers the opportunity to evaluate not only their answers but to compare and contrast style and approach.
That's one of the advantages of the debate format.
We also liked the split-screen setup.
It gave viewers a look at the proceedings in their totality while also giving the candidates equal airtime.
Given the personalities of the candidates involved, round one was not only informative on multiple levels, it was entertaining.
That was a bonus.
There are two more forums coming up - a debate featuring the vice presidential candidates, Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate, and Gov. Mike Pence, Donald Trump's running mate, was planned for Tuesday.
The final two forums will cycle back to the presidential candidates with a town hall style Q&A and then a debate similar to Monday's in structure and format.
According to a release from the CPD, the details for the remaining events are:
- Second presidential debate (town meeting), Sunday, Oct. 9:
Moderated by: Martha Raddatz, ABC; Anderson Cooper, CNN
"The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which half of the questions will be posed directly by citizen participants and the other half will be posed by the moderator based on topics of broad public interest as reflected in social media and other sources. The candidates will have two minutes to respond and there will be an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate further discussion. The town meeting participants will be uncommitted voters selected by the Gallup Organization."
- Third presidential debate, Wednesday, Oct. 19:
Moderated by Chris Wallace, Fox News
"The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate."
We urge voters to tune in to the remaining sessions, each to be televised commercial-free from 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m. on the dates scheduled.
This is an important election year and your vote does matter.
Be informed. And cast a ballot.
- Citizen editorial