President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney will spar over whose vision is best for boosting the U.S. economy and navigating thorny foreign issues among other topics during three debates before the November 6 election.
Vice President Joe Biden will also face Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman known for his conservative budget proposals.
Below are key facts about the debates, the first of which is on Wednesday. The encounters will all air from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EDT.
FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
The first debate at the University of Denver in Colorado, a swing state, is on October 3. Its moderator will be "PBS NewsHour" Executive Editor Jim Lehrer and the theme is domestic policy.
VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
The only vice presidential debate will cover a wide swath of foreign and domestic issues and be held at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, on October 11. ABC's senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz will moderate it.
SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
The second presidential encounter will be in a "town meeting" format and voters will directly question the candidates on many issues, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates' website.
It will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, which hosted the final debate between Obama and Arizona Republican Senator John McCain in the 2008 election. It is set for October 16 and will be moderated by Candy Crowley, host of CNN's "State of the Union" show.
THIRD PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
The final debate takes place at Lynn University in Boca Raton in the battleground state of Florida on October 22. Its focus will be on foreign policy and the moderator will be Bob Schieffer, host of CBS' "Face The Nation" show.
(Reporting By Eric Johnson; Editing by Alistair Bell and Christopher Wilson)