August 1, 2010

Delaware First Media – University of Delaware

DELAWARE Debates 2010

RULES - OCT 6, 2010 DEBATE - U.S. House of representatives candidates

Delaware First Media and the University of Delaware are partnering to host Delaware Debates 2010 for major candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.  Each debate will be televised live from Mitchell Hall at the University of Delaware’s Newark campus. The video and audio feeds will be available to all news media, and the debates will be webcast publicly both live and archived for playback.

Candidates for US House of Representatives Debate: 

Date:  Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moderator:  Nancy Karibjanian, Delaware First Media

Additional questioners: Undergraduate students of the University of Delaware

Debate Standards

In establishing debate standards for candidate inclusion, format, and ground rules, Delaware First Media and the University of Delaware have chosen to follow the suggestions of the Debate Standards Advisory Project. The Debate Standards Advisory Project was funded through a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and sponsored by the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland. Its goal was the improvement of candidate debates by developing nonpartisan standards for debates and the sponsorship of debates.

Criteria for Inclusion in Delaware Debates 2010

Candidates were first apprised of the following rules of inclusion in letters sent in April, 2010.

Because Delaware Debates 2010 fall during the “pre-election period” (30 days or less before election), all candidates who meet the criteria established by the Debate Advisory Standards Project (a joint project of Pew Center and Knight Center) and have demonstrated a serious purpose and have gathered the necessary public support (as explained below), will be invited to debate. To demonstrate seriousness of purpose plus significant public support to be included in debates during the pre-election period, the candidate shall meet all legal qualifications to hold the office and shall have qualified for the ballot.

In addition, the candidate must meet one or more of the following inclusion criteria:

  1. The candidate has received 10 percent or more of the vote, tested in a trial heat, in a professionally conducted public opinion survey by an experienced pollster based on a scientific sample of the entire electorate with a margin of error of less than five percent (at a 95 percent level of confidence).

  2. A pollster shall be considered “experienced” if he or she is a member of the American Association of Political Consultants, the World Association for Public Opinion Research, American Association for Public Opinion Research or the American Political Science Association for at least three years; and has either been employed by media or other nonpartisan organizations to do national, statewide or congressional district polling with published results, or has been employed professionally, as evidenced by reports filed with governmental entities, by at least three political campaigns in at least three separate elections, political committees or candidates for statewide, congressional, countywide and/or state legislative offices.

  3. The candidate has reported in legal documents filed with federal, state or local governmental entities the receipt, during that election campaign, of at least 3 campaign contributions per 1,000 residents of the constituency (based on the total number of persons enumerated in the last U.S. census) of $50 or more, excluding contributions received from the candidate himself or herself, the candidate’s spouse or the candidate’s natural or adopted children.

  4. The candidate previously had been elected to, or held, the office to which he or she is seeking election.

  5. The candidate is the official nominee of a political party that:

  6. (a)received at least 10 percent of the vote in the most recent prior gubernatorial general election in the state where the constituency is located; or

  7. (b)received at least 10 percent of the vote in the prior presidential general election in the state where the constituency is located; or

  8. (c)received at least 15 percent of the vote in the prior general election for the office to which he or she is seeking election.

  9. The candidate sought, during the prior 8 years, the nomination of a political party in a primary election to the same office he or she is seeking, provided, however, that the candidate either

  10. (a)won the primary election, or

  11. (b)received a number of votes equal to an amount at least 10 percent of the total number of all registered or qualified voters in the constituency in said primary election.

  12. The candidate sought the same office during the prior 8 years and received at least 30 percent of the vote in the general election.

If a candidate believes that he or she is eligible for inclusion in Delaware Debates 2010 by these standards, the candidate must notify Ralph Begleiter, Director, Center for Political Communication, University of Delaware, or Micheline Boudreau, President, Delaware First Media, in writing at least 3 days before the scheduled debate. The candidate must include all paperwork to support his or her petition for inclusion.

  1. In the US House of Representatives debate, by 3:00pm Monday, October 3, 2010.

  2. In the US Senate debate, by 3:00pm Monday October 10, 2010. 

Ground Rules

  1. The entire debate will last 90 minutes, from open to close.

  2. The debate will take place in two parts: (1) 60-minute moderator question segment, (2) 30-minute student question segment

  3. Time limits on statements, answers, rebuttals and responses will be strictly enforced.

  4. No participant in the debate (neither candidates nor questioners) shall be allowed to use props or visuals.

  5. Candidates and the moderator will be seated around a table for the duration of each debate. Neither the candidates nor the moderator shall rise from their seats during the debates, except upon their arrival and departure.

  6. Debate participants (both candidates and questioners) may refer to limited notes as prompts.

  7. Notes should be placed in front of the speaker. They may be written on letter-sized sheets of paper or index cards that can fit into a letter size business folder or within an ordinary binder up to 2” thick that holds 8-1/2” x 11” pages.

  8. Candidates, moderators and questioners may write notes for their own use throughout the program.

  9. The moderator may interrupt any candidate if he or she believes the candidate is straying from the subject matter.

  10. The candidates shall not be allowed to interrupt one another. It is the moderator’s responsibility to enforce this rule.

  11. Surrogates will not be allowed to participate in place of a candidate.

  12. Each candidate, or appointed representatives of each candidate, shall have supervised access to the debate site and stage area between one and four hours before the debate starts.

  13. The candidate shall not have access to any person during the debate other than the moderator, and, in the case of an emergency, a member of the production crew or staff.


There will be a non-participatory audience in Mitchell Hall. The sponsors shall reserve 25 seats for each candidate’s invited guests. The remainder of Mitchell Hall shall be reserved by the sponsors for their guests, students, and the general public.  No campaign materials, literature, hats, stickers, signs or banners are allowed inside Mitchell Hall.

The live audience will be prohibited from applauding or making noise during the debate and may not do anything visible or audible to express support or opposition to any candidate during the debate. Violations will prompt immediate removal of audience members from debate venue. 

No audience reaction shots will be televised during the debate. Short duration audience pans during the debate will be televised only when the moderator is speaking or during transitions in the program.

Televised reaction shots of the candidates will be balanced and equal in number and length. When reaction shots are aired, the candidate who is speaking will be included in the shot as well as the reacting candidate.

Debate Format

The Delaware Debates are structured to encourage substantive discussion of important issues.  The set style will be round-table conversation.  Participants will be seated around a simple table, with candidates on one side and moderator on the other side. Candidates are not allowed to stand up or walk around during the debate.

Opening and Closing Statements

Candidates will be allowed an opportunity to make a two-minute opening statement and a two-minute closing statement.

  1. When there are two candidates participating, the order of opening and closing statements shall be determined by a coin toss before the debate program. The candidate who wins the toss gets to determine whether he or she wants to open first. Candidates who open first, close second. Candidates who open second, close first.

  2. When there are multiple candidates, the order of opening and closing statements shall be determined by drawing lots (1, 2, 3, etc.) before the debate program. The order for closing statements shall be the reverse of the opening statements.

  3. Closing statements made by candidates shall not include charges or attacks against another candidate that have not been previously raised during the debate. If a candidate violates this rule and the attacked candidate has already completed his or her closing statement, the moderator may offer the attacked candidate the right to make a short rebuttal (30 seconds or less), if time permits, after the closing statement segment has been completed.


There will be two distinct segments to the debate, to give candidates the fullest opportunity to give substantive, thorough discussion to the issues presented.  The segments are designed to be fair and even-handed.

Questions from moderator - Candidate question with rebuttal and unstructured follow-up (60 minutes; 7:30pm - 8:30pm)

  1. Moderator asks Candidate A a question (up to 30 seconds)

  2. Candidate A answers (2 minutes)

  3. Moderator gives Candidate B the opportunity to rebut

  4. Candidate B rebuts (1 minute)

  5. Moderator may follow up with Candidate A and/or Candidate B and is to moderate an unstructured discussion (including rebuttals and responses) between both candidates provided that each statement made by a candidate is limited (1 minute). The amount of time allocated to this unstructured discussion period is determined by the moderator but generally should not exceed 4 minutes.

In debates with more than two candidates, discussion period will be increased by 30 seconds, respectively, for each additional candidate.

“Lightning Round” - Questions from students to candidates (30-minutes; 8:30pm - 9:00pm)

  1. Student asks a question  (up to 30 seconds)

  2. Candidate A answers (1 minute)

  3. Candidate B answers (1 minute)

  4. Student asks a question (up to 30 seconds)

  5. Candidate B answers (1 minute)

  6. Candidate A answers (1 minute)

Rule Enforcement

Candidates and campaigns have a right to make sure the rules and format of a debate are fair and even-handedly applied.  When rules are established and participants are given full notice of them, it is expected that all participants will strictly adhere to them without exception.


  1. Candidates should arrive at Mitchell Hall at the University of Delaware no later than 6:30pm on the day of the debate. 

  2. Make-up and hair styling services will be provided.

  3. Candidates will be given their own small room to prepare prior to the debate.

  4. Water, notepads, and pens will be provided for candidates.  Candidates are also welcome to bring their own writing instrument and notes for the program.


Questions or Concerns

Any questions or concerns regarding debate rules or petitions for candidate inclusion should be directed to Ralph Begleiter, Director of the Center for Political Communication, or Micheline Boudreau, President, Delaware First Media.

    1. Ralph Begleiter • 302-831-7771 •

    2. Micheline Boudreau • 302-750-4072 •