NEW YORK (NEWSnet/AP) — The first debate this election season between President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time Thursday.

It’s certain to be a closely-watched event; and the preparations will consider the record each of them has held in one White House term so far.

Neither has been declared his party’s official nominee given that the conventions are later this summer. But early voting / early ballot opportunities in some locations open in mid-September, and the candidates are planning campaign appearances accordingly.

Biden and Trump are not working with the long-standing Commission on Presidential Debates, which had worked out a schedule for the fall. Instead, the campaigns are negotiating directly with national news media hosts on details such as date, location and format.

Another one is scheduled for Sept. 10 on ABC.

There will be no opening statements at Thursday’s debate. Each candidate’s microphone will be muted, except when it’s his turn to speak. No props or pre-written notes will be allowed on stage. The candidates will be given a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water.

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