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Biden and Trump confirm June and September debates in social media back and forth

Updated May 15, 2024 at 12:00 PM ET

President Biden and former President Donald Trump have had a busy back and forth, posting on X and Truth Social, respectively, agreeing to appear in a pair of presidential debates that circumvent the traditional Commission on President Debates.

Biden and Trump will first debate on June 27 in Atlanta. The event, hosted by CNN and announced by the network and the respective campaigns, will not feature an audience and will take place at CNN's Atlanta studios.

The second debate, hosted by ABC News will be Sept. 10. A location has not yet been announced.

This comes after President Biden said — on social media — he wanted to debate former President Donald Trump twice this year but his campaign said he would not participate in the traditional schedule and format established by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. The campaign laid out their own terms instead.

Trump responded to Biden's call in a post on his Truth Social platform, saying he was "ready and willing" to debate Biden at the two proposed times. The Trump campaign has pushed an "any time, anywhere, any place" message around the debates in recent weeks, hoping to pressure Biden to debate.

In the wake of the announcement of the June debate, the Trump campaign released a memo, calling for even more debate appearances. The Trump team proposed "a debate in June, a debate in July, a debate in August, and a debate in September, in addition to the Vice Presidential debate." The September debate was announced shortly after.

The Republican National Committee had said in April 2022 that it would quit the Commission on Presidential Debates because of concerns about the timing of debates and over accusations of bias.

Biden is willing to take part in two debates hosted by broadcast organizations, his campaign chair Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a letter that spelled out Biden's terms. O'Malley Dillon said the commission -- which has hosted debates since 1988 — is "out of step with changes in the structure of our elections and the interests of voters."

The commission had announced back in November that there would be three debates in September and October. But O'Malley Dillon said its schedule begins too late, after tens of millions of people have cast their ballots in early voting, and said the commission failed to enforce debate rules in 2020.

Biden's campaign also objects to the audiences which it described as "raucous or disruptive partisans and donors, who consume valuable debate time with noisy spectacles of approval or jeering."

"As was the case with the original televised debates in 1960, a television studiowith just the candidates and moderators is a better, more cost-efficient way to proceed," O'Malley Dillon said. Other terms include having microphones open only when it's the candidates turn to speak.

The Biden campaign is proposing a late June debate after Biden returns from the G7 in Italy, and when Trump's New York trial is likely to have wrapped. The second debate should be early September, "early enough to influence early voting," she said. The vice presidential debate should be in late July, after the Republican National Convention, she said.

In his Truth Social post, Trump said he recommended more than two debates "and, for excitement purposes, a very large venue, although Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds."

Biden's campaign also nixed the idea of including third-party or independent candidates in the debates, saying they "should be one-on-one, allowing voters to compare the only two candidates with any statistical chance of prevailing in the Electoral College – and not squandering debate time on candidates with no prospect of becoming president."

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an independent presidential candidate who has made it clear that he intends to appear on the debate stage, quickly blasted the campaigns' decisions on X, saying "Presidents Trump and Biden are colluding to lock America into a head-to-head match-up that 70% say they do not want."

"Keeping viable candidates off the debate stage undermines democracy," Kennedy continued. [Copyright 2024 NPR]

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