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Third-party candidates to participate in future general election debates?

US President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012. After hundreds of campaign stops, $500 million in mostly negative ads and countless tit-for-tat attacks, Obama and Romney go head-to-head in their debut debate. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Televised presidential debates have remained largely the same since the first one in 1960, the format consisting of one candidate from each of the major parties answering questions from a pre-selected moderator. Playbook reports that a group of political insiders is looking to change a lot of that:

Top officials from past presidential campaigns have quietly formed a group to push for major changes in the general-election debates, with recommendations expected by late spring. The working group is questioning the debates' format, moderator-selection process and location: Might a TV studio make more sense than a college town? Members said a major goal is to make more allowance for changing technology and the rise of social media. A likely recommendation is an earlier start for the debates, in response to the increase in absentee voting.

Members include the longtime lead debate negotiator for each party: Bob Bauer for Democratic nominees and Ben Ginsberg for the Republicans. So the Annenberg Working Group on Presidential General Election Debates could have a profound effect on the signature fall events of the race for the White House. The group's co-chairs were top debate-prep advisers to each of the 2012 nominees: Anita Dunn for President Obama, and Beth Myers for Mitt Romney.

Playbook also notes that part of the discussions is allowing the participation of candidates from non-major parties, like the Green Party, and independent candidates.

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