Debate history: A look at the road to the White House through Cleveland

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – The road to the White House is again coming through Cleveland.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will face off inside Samson Pavilion in a debate hosted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.

For Trump, it will mark a return to a Cleveland debate stage.

He was among the Republican candidates on stage inside what was formerly Quicken Loans Arena during the GOP presidential primary in the lead up to the 2016 election.

Trump was back at the arena to accept the Republican nomination during the Republican National Convention a year later.

Decades earlier, Republican challenger Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter came to Cleveland for their final debate in 1980 inside Public Hall.

President Reagan had several memorable moments, including his use of the phrase, “There you go again” just one week before he would win the election.

“I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself: are you better off than you were four years ago?” Reagan said during the debate.

It’s a question that has been asked of incumbents in debates ever since and will likely come up this year at Case Western Reserve University.

This marks the university’s second time hosting a debate.

In 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney debated Senator John Edwards at Case, in an event that drew about 1,500 members of the media and more than 300 volunteers.

While this year’s first presidential debate will be held in the same place, this is a very different time as a more conventional candidate faces an incumbent who’s anything but.

“This is sort of going to be a bizarre spectacle, but it’s a spectacle we’ve seen before because Trump is going to try to put on a show,” said CWRU Associate Professor of Political Science Justin Buchler.

Despite the anticipation, Buchler said the location matters less than what’s said on stage.

“Remember that people watching a debate are watching from a television screen or a computer, and it simply does not matter where a debate is held,” Buchler said.

Still, many are expected to watch the debate here in Cleveland.

It’s set to take place Tuesday, September 29 at 9 p.m.

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