President Biden and Former President Trump Agree to 2024 General Election Debates
President Biden and Former President Trump Agree to 2024 General Election Debates

President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden have both agreed to participate in general election debates on June 27 and Sept. 10, dispelling any doubts about whether debates for the 2024 general election would take place.

President Biden and Former President Trump Agree to 2024 General Election Debates

CNN will host the first debate in late June at 9 p.m. at its studios in Atlanta, as announced in a press release from the news organization. The September debate will be hosted by ABC News.

The agreement between the two presidents came quickly after the Biden campaign proposed a new debate schedule ahead of the Nov. 5 general election.

"To ensure candidates can make the most of the debate time, no audience will be present," CNN stated, while naming Jake Tapper and Dana Bash as co-moderators.

The agreement followed Biden's challenge to Trump for two debates hosted in a television studio before the November election, a departure from the traditional system.

Trump responded promptly, expressing disagreement with Biden's preference to not debate in front of a crowd but accepting the proposed dates and indicating eagerness to debate.

The public agreement followed private discussions about possible meetings. Officials with the Biden and Trump campaigns have had informal conversations on debates in recent weeks, focused on meetings that would not involve the commission, according to sources familiar with the matter.

A Trump campaign official told NBC News that “contacts” between the two campaigns related to potential debates began after Biden’s interview with radio host Howard Stern late last month, during which Biden said he would be “happy” to debate the former president. Afterward, the Trump campaign official said some brief discussions between the two 2024 teams took place.

“For months, President Trump has said as clearly as anyone can: anytime, anywhere, anyplace,” this person said. “So that is the most important thing above all of this other speculation."

Preparing for a debate in just six weeks could be a challenge for Biden, especially as the president is set to travel to Europe twice in the weeks prior — for the D-Day 80th anniversary in France and the G-7 Summit in Italy. But one senior Biden adviser said that “early prep is overrated,” while another said simply: “He’s ready to go.”

Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff, says he expects to reprise his role in helping organize debate prep for 2024 as he did in 2020. Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel and now personal attorney to Biden, played the role of Trump in mock sessions four years ago, but advisers would not yet say if he planned to reprise the role.

After both Biden and Trump expressed their desire to debate each other, Biden said on X that he had accepted an invitation from CNN to participate in the June 27 debate.

"Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place," Biden said.

Shortly after, a Trump aide said they agreed to the CNN debate in Atlanta — and the fact there will be no crowd for that first debate.

Biden and Trump later in the morning said they accepted an invitation by ABC News to participate in a second debate on Sept. 10.

“I’ve also received and accepted an invitation to a debate hosted by ABC on Tuesday, September 10th," Biden said on X. "Trump says he’ll arrange his own transportation. I’ll bring my plane, too. I plan on keeping it for another four years.”

"It is my great honor to accept the CNN Debate against Crooked Joe Biden, the WORST PRESIDENT in the History of the United States and a true Threat to Democracy, on June 27th," Trump said on Truth Social. "Likewise, I accept the ABC News Debate against Crooked Joe on September 10th. Thank you, DJT!"

In a subsequent Truth Social post Wednesday afternoon, Trump pushed for an additional debate on Fox News, which he said would take place on Oct. 2 and be hosted by anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

CNN’s debate criteria leave open the possibility of other candidates joining the stage, but it would be difficult.

Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has already hit CNN’s 15% national polling threshold in two qualifying polls, with just two more needed to fulfill the polling criteria. But the network also announced that in order to participate, “a candidate’s name must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency prior to the eligibility deadline,” which appears to be June 20.

Many state deadlines for independent ballot access are after that date. In Ohio, for example, Kennedy’s campaign has announced it gathered the needed signatures to appear on the ballot there. But the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported last week that the campaign would wait to turn in signatures for certification until closer to Ohio’s state deadline, which is Aug. 7.

In a post on X Wednesday morning, Kennedy wrote that Biden and Trump “are trying to exclude me from their debate because they are afraid I would win.”

Coordination of the debates developed Wednesday after Biden's campaign chair, Jen O'Malley Dillon, wrote in a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) — the organization that has coordinated presidential debates for decades — that Biden won't participate in any of its debates and will instead only do those hosted directly by news outlets.

"We believe the first debate should be in late June, after Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial is likely to be over and after President Biden returns from meeting with world leaders at the G7 Summit," O'Malley Dillon wrote.

She added that it should be hosted by any broadcast organization that hosted a 2016 GOP primary debate in which Trump participated and a Democratic primary debate in 2020 in which Biden participated.

"A second presidential debate should be held in early September at the start of the fall campaign season, early enough to influence early voting, but not so late as to require the candidates to leave the campaign trail in the critical late September and October period," the letter said.

Trump responded on Truth Social on Wednesday morning saying that he agrees to the proposed times: "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!!!" Trump added.

O'Malley Dillion listed proposed rules for the debates: firm time limits for answers, alternate turns to speak "so that the time is evenly divided and we have an exchange of views, not a spectacle of mutual interruption." She added that a candidate’s microphone should be active only when it is his turn to speak.

The letter also proposed that the vice presidential debate should be held in late July after the Republican National Convention.

She explained that Biden's campaign is opposed to the CPD's debates because they are scheduled to "begin after the American people have a chance to cast their vote early, and doesn’t conclude until after tens of millions of Americans will have already voted." She explained that the commission's debates have become "huge spectacles with large audiences" and that it should just be the two candidates in a TV studio with the moderators. O'Malley Dillion also said that the CPD didn't enforce its own rules in 2020.

Along with the letter, Biden posted a brief video on X challenging Trump to debate him. He joked that he hears Trump is free on Wednesdays, alluding to Trump

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