Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

VIDEO: Dan Walters looks at new poll numbers on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30.

Now that the governor's bill-signing deadline is in the rear-view mirror, the biggest thing up next is, of course, the November election.

The first presidential debate is set for Wednesday with President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney discussing domestic policy. Jim Lehrer of PBS NewsHour moderates from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time at the University of Denver, with six 15-minute segments expected to focus on the economy, health care, the role of government and related topics.

Next Thursday, Oct. 11, Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan go head to head at Centre College in Danville, Ky., in the only vice presidential debate. Martha Raddatz, who is senior foreign affairs correspondent at ABC News, will moderate.

Obama and Romney face off again the following week at a town hall at Hofstra University, where undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization will ask questions on foreign and domestic issues. The two will then each have two minutes to respond. That second debate will be moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The third presidential debate will focus on foreign policy and use the same format as their first. Bob Schieffer of CBS will moderate the event at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., on Monday, Oct. 22.

All debates start at 6 p.m. Pacific Time and run for 90 minutes. The Commission on Presidential Debates says there will be no opening statements but candidates may make two-minute closing statements. Obama seems to already be making his in this ad.

Many voters believe candidates approve the questions ahead of time. "As if," writes Gwen Ifill of PBS, who moderated the vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008. Ifill debunks that myth and four others about presidential debates in this Washington Post article.

(She's also often asked: "Is Sarah Palin really as pretty close up?")

NEW GIG: The California Budget Project has a new executive director: policy analyst Christopher Hoene, who has been director of the Center for Research & Innovation at the Washington, D.C.-based National League of Cities for the past five years. Hoene starts his new job today. Click here to read the official announcement.



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