Biden and Trump debate set for June on CNN

President Joe Biden and Donald Trump on Wednesday scheduled the first of what they agreed would be at least two debates after the Democratic incumbent issued a blunt challenge to his Republican predecessor.

CNN will air the first presidential debate on June 27 at 9 p.m. ET in Atlanta with no studio audience. Moderators have yet to be announced.

Trump also has agreed to debate Biden in September on a date and at a location to be determined. But Trump’s campaign later Wednesday called for two other debates, in July and in August.

“Make my day pal,” Biden said in a video released earlier Wednesday calling out Trump to debate him twice with special conditions.

Biden’s campaign said both showdowns would be held by media organizations, without the involvement of the non-partisan commission that typically organizes presidential debates. The campaign also insisted on only the two major party candidates and a moderator, with no studio audience for both showdowns.

“Just tell me when, I’ll be there,” wrote Trump in a Truth Social post accepting Biden’s challenge. ‘Let’s get ready to rumble!!!”

“I am Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times in June and September,” Trump added.

CNN said the June 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.

In a letter Wednesday to the Commission on Presidential Debates, Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said the campaign declined to participate in the organization debates scheduled for Sept. 16, Oct. 1 and Oct. 9.

“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,” O’Malley Dillon wrote the group, which has hosted debates since 1988.

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.

This time around, Biden’s campaign proposed, 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 proposal to hold the first debate in June noted that it would take place after the expected end of Trump’s New York hush money trial and Biden’s appearance at the G7 Summit.

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 second presidential debate would take place in September, after the Democratic National Convention in August.

The debates would exclude any other candidate for the White House, including Kennedy, “not squandering debate time on candidates with no prospect of becoming President,” O’Malley Dillon wrote.

Kennedy on Wednesday objected to the chance he will 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.

Biden’s debate proposal comes after a recent New York Times poll found the incumbent lagging behind his Republican challenger in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, less than six months out from what many suggest will be a near-dead heat election.

Given Biden’s popularity issues, the parameters for debate could help ensure that the candidates compete on policy issues rather than for the applause of a raucous crowd.

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 when court is not in session for Trump’s ongoing trial.

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.’ I am Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times in June and September.”

“I would strongly recommend more than two debates and, for excitement purposes, a very large venue, although Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds – That’s only because he doesn’t get them,” Trump wrote.


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