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It’s On! Biden Vs Trump Debate Set For Next Month On CNN

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UPDATE, 8 AM PT: Face Off!

After a series of salvos online this morning over meeting for debates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are truly ready to rumble.

The current POTUS and the much indicted former president will meet on June 27 on CNN. The first match-up between the bitter political rivals will take place in Atlanta at 9 pm ET with no studio audience.

The debate will air live not just on CNN, but also CNN International, CNN en Español, CNN Max and CNN.com. No word yet on who the moderators will be in what promises to be a contentious rematch between the men who ran against each other in 2020.

PREVIOUSLY, 5:49 AM PT: Joe Biden challenged Donald Trump to participate in two presidential debates, with his campaign debuting a video in which the president says to his rival, “Make my day pal. I’ll even do it twice. So let’s pick the dates, Donald.”

Then, Biden says, “I hear you are free on Wednesdays.” That was a swipe at Trump’s criminal trial in New York, which is dark on that day.

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign has sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, announcing that the president would not be participating in the organization’s planned dates this fall and instead would be taking part in events hosted by news organizations. The campaign is proposing a debate in late June, after Trump’s criminal trial is likely to be over, and in September, before early voting begins. They also are proposing a vice presidential debate in late July, after Trump has picked his running mate and that person has been nominated at the Republican National Convention.

Trump’s campaign has said that he would debate Biden “anytime” and “anywhere.” After Biden’s video, Trump wrote on Truth Social, “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. Just tell me when, I’ll be there. ‘Let’s get ready to Rumble!!’”

The Biden campaign’s decision to forgo the commission’s planned debates signals an end to a structure that has been in place since the 1980s. The bipartisan commission has held the debates each cycle since 1988, with each event carried across all major broadcast and cable networks, and more recently streaming. But the commission in recent cycles has come under fire from Trump and his campaign, which have attacked its choice of moderators and its planned dates. The Republican National Committee passed a resolution to forgo the events this cycle, but Trump has since expressed a willingness to participate even if the commission was hosting.

In a letter to the commission, Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon wrote that the organization’s model for the debates is “out of step with the changes in the structure of our elections.”

Among other things, O’Malley Dillon wrote that the debate schedule starts after many have already cast their ballots early, and the final event has taken place after “tens of millions of Americans will have already voted.” The Trump campaign, which had the same complaint, had proposed earlier dates last cycle, but the commission declined. It recently defended the set schedule for this cycle, noting that the first debate, to take place on Sept. 16, would be the “earliest televised general election debate ever held.”

O’Malley Dillon also said that the debates had become “huge spectacles with large audiences at great expense” that “simply isn’t necessarily conducive to good debates.” “The debates should be conducted for the benefit of American voters, watching on television and at home — not as entertainment for an in-person audience with raucous or disruptive partisans and donors, who consumer valuable debate time with noisy spectacles, or approval or jeering.” Instead, she wrote that a “better, more cost-efficient way to proceed” is with a debate in a television studio. That was the case in 1960, when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon participated in a series of televised debates, the first of the modern age. Other debates were held in 1976, 1980 and 1984, but they were hosted by the League of Women Voters.

O’Malley Dillon also complained that the commission was “unable or unwilling to enforce the rules in the 2020 debates.” That was a reference to the first debate last cycle, when Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden, to the point of frustration by the event’s moderator, Chris Wallace.

Even though both candidates have now agreed to debate, the devil will be in the details.

That will be no small task. In his statement, Trump called for a large venue; the Biden campaign signalled that it wanted to avoid theatrics.

O’Malley Dillon’s letter made clear that the debates would be one-on-one and not include other third party or independent candidate so as to not squander “debate time on candidates with no prospect of becoming president.” That would freeze out Robert Kennedy Jr., who has been polling around 10% in some key swing states. The commission’s threshold for participating in its debates is a polling average of 15%.

Any major media outlet would likely jump at the chance to host a debate, but coming to an agreement on which network would host such a gathering may be one of the thorniest of all issues.

The Biden campaign proposed that it be “hosted by any broadcast organization that hosted a Republican primary debate in 2016 in which Donald Trump participated, and a Democratic primary debate in 2020 in which President Biden participated — so neither campaign can assert that the sponsoring organization is unacceptable.” That description would mean CBS News and ABC News, as well as Telemundo, would be in the running. It also is unclear whether CNN would be acceptable, as it is a cable and not a broadcast network. But the criteria does exclude MSNBC and Fox News, as well as NBC News, which did not host a GOP debate in the 2016, although sister properties CNBC and Telemundo did.

O’Malley Dillon also proposed that the moderator “should be selected by the broadcast host from among their regular personnel, so as to avoid a ‘ringer’ or partisan.” She also proposed time limits for answers and “alternate turns to speak — so that time is evenly divided and we have an exchange of views, not a spectacle of mutual interruption.” She also said that a candidate’s microphone should be active only when it is his turn to speak.

More to come.

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