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Biden and Trump agree to debates on June 27 and Sept. 10

In Business
May 15, 2024

Donald Trump, left, and President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 22, 2020.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden and Donald Trump on Wednesday scheduled two debates shortly after the Democratic incumbent issued a blunt public challenge to his Republican predecessor.

CNN is scheduled to air the first presidential debate on June 27 at 9 p.m. ET in Atlanta with no studio audience. The anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate, CNN said.

ABC News will host the second debate on Sept. 10. “ABC News will make the debate available to simulcast on additional broadcast and streaming news networks in America,” the outlet said.

Ahead of the two scheduled events, Biden directly addressed Trump and dared him to debate him.

“Make my day, pal,” Biden said in a video released earlier Wednesday.

Trump shot back in a Truth Social Post: “Just tell me when, I’ll be there.”

“Let’s get ready to rumble!!!” Trump wrote. “I am Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times in June and September.”

Both showdowns will be held without the involvement of the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organized such debates in contests for the White House since 1988.

Biden’s campaign told the commission that it would not participate in three debates scheduled by the group in mid-September and October, objecting to their timing, format and a failure in the past to enforce rules.

In a letter Wednesday to the Commission on Presidential Debates, Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon wrote, “The years-long Presidential Commission model for these debates is out of step with changes in the structure of our elections and the interests of voters.”

Biden’s campaign objected to the commission scheduling debates after early voting had already begun and treating the debates as more of an entertainment program, O’Malley Dillon wrote.

She also said the commission has consistently failed to enforce debate rules, leading to “noisy spectacles of approval or jeering.” During the 2020 debates, Biden and Trump regularly broke out into shouting matches as they each tried to get a word in edgewise.

Trump’s campaign on Wednesday also called for two other debates, in July and in August.

The former president later posted on Truth Social that he would accept a Fox News debate on Oct. 2. Biden’s campaign did not confirm that the president would attend any debates other than those hosted by CNN and ABC News.

“President Biden made his terms clear for two one-on-one debates, and Donald Trump accepted those terms. No more games,” O’Malley Dillon said in a statement following Trump’s post.

This time around, Biden’s campaign has proposed that each candidate should have firm time limits to answer questions and when a candidate is not speaking, his microphone should be turned off.

Biden’s campaign also suggested that the vice presidential debate take place the last half of July, after the Republican National Convention when the party officially nominates its presidential candidate.

The commission said Wednesday it is still “ready to execute” its planned debates.

The Biden and Trump campaigns had been in back-channel communication over the past several weeks to figure out a format for presidential debates that would not involve the debate commission, two sources familiar with the discussions and one Trump campaign official told NBC News.

Those conversations began after Biden’s interview on “The Howard Stern Show” last month when he said he would be open to debating Trump, a Trump campaign official said.

CNN said its debate would only include candidates whose names appear on a “sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency prior to the eligibility deadline.”

The outlet also said that participants needed to receive “at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters that meet CNN’s standards for reporting.”

Robert Kennedy Jr., who is running for the White House as an independent, garnered the support of 13% of respondents in a recent NBC News poll and 16% in a CNN poll this month.

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Kennedy on Wednesday expressed frustration that he would be blocked from participating in the debates with Biden and Trump.

“By excluding me from the stage, Presidents Biden and Trump seek to avoid discussion of their eight years of mutual failure including deficits, wars, lockdowns, chronic disease, and inflation,” Kennedy wrote in a post on the social media site X.

The announcement of the debates comes after a recent New York Times poll found Biden lagging Trump in key battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, less than six months out from what many suggest will be a near-dead heat election.

In Biden’s Wednesday video, posted on X, the president said, “Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020. Since then, he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again.”

“Well, make my day, pal. I’ll even do it twice. So let’s pick the dates, Donald,” Biden said.

“I hear you’re free on Wednesdays,” the president cracked, referring to the day that court is not in session for Trump’s ongoing hush money trial in New York.

Trump in his Truth Social post wrote: “Crooked Joe Biden is the WORST debater I have ever faced – He can’t put two sentences together! Crooked is also the WORST President in the history of the United States, by far.”

Trump added, “It’s time for a debate so that he can explain to the American People his highly destructive Open Border Policy, new and ridiculous EV Mandates, the allowance of Crushing Inflation, High Taxes, and his really WEAK Foreign Policy, which is allowing the World to ‘Catch on Fire.'”

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