The first presidential debate will focus on national security

National security will be among the primary topics of next week's first presidential debate between the major party candidates, organizers announced Monday.

The event, to be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, on Sept. 26, will feature 90 minutes of policy and political sparring from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

It's the first of three such events set for coming weeks, and is expected to be one of the most viewed political events in recent history, given the divisive nature of much of the presidential campaign so far.

Debate moderator Lester Holt, news anchor for NBC, said his questions will focus on the three topics of "America's direction, achieving prosperity and securing America."

At least 30 minutes of the nationally televised event will focus on the security questions, expected to cover the candidates' plans for the military budget, combating terrorism and America's role in overseas conflicts.

The topics have already become a key focus in the campaign, with Clinton accusing Trump of promoting plans to abandon U.S. allies in Europe and Trump trying to tie the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East to Clinton’s work as secretary of state.

The two also squared off on those issues at the Commander-in-Chief Forum in New York earlier this month, but in separate stage appearances before a crowd of veterans.

The event is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. on the East Coast and run without commercial interruptions.

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at

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