Updated Apr 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden welcomes presidential debate after hedging on Trump’s conduct

Trump and Biden stand on debate stage. Biden is to the right and Trump is to the left. A logo with a bald eagle is above them as well as stars.

Former President Trump (left) and President Biden (right) debate in 2020 at Belmont University in Nashville. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden said he's planning to debate former President Trump this election cycle during a radio interview Friday with Howard Stern, multiple outlets reported.

Why it matters: TV networks and other news organizations have pushed to get the candidates to publicly commit to general election debates.

  • "Ok let's set it up!" Trump's campaign adviser Chris LaCivita immediately responded.

Driving the news: "I don't know when, but I am happy to debate him," Biden said Friday.

  • In March, he said his participation in a debate with Trump "depends on his behavior."
  • Earlier this month, Trump's campaign asked the Commission on Presidential Debates to move already scheduled debates to earlier in the year and add additional ones to the schedule.

The latest: Trump, in a Friday Truth Social post, said he was willing to debate Biden "anywhere, anytime."

  • Trump made suggestions to debate in the coming days, including as soon as Friday night outside of the Manhattan court house where his first criminal trial is taking place.

State of play: A dozen news organizations including ABC, the Associated Press, CNN, Fox and NBC led the recent request for a debate.

  • "If there is one thing Americans can agree on during this polarized time, it is that the stakes of this election are exceptionally high," the letter said.
  • "Amidst that backdrop, there is simply no substitute for the candidates debating with each other, and before the American people, their visions for the future of our nation."

Between the lines: Trump didn't participate in the Republican presidential primary debates, but the spotlight was still frequently on him.

  • Trump held counter programming during the first three GOP debates, all of which had less viewership than the 2016 debates where Trump attracted a huge audience.

Zoom out: Every presidential cycle since 1976 has included general election debates.

  • The Republican National Committee said the eventual GOP nominee can't participate in debates hosted and organized by the independent Commission on Presidential Debates, but Trump never signed the pledge vowing to participate in RNC-sanctioned debates.

Flashback: Some Biden campaign staffers were upset over 2020 debate protocols and COVID-19 precautions.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with details throughout.

Go deeper: TV networks push Biden, Trump to commit to fall debates

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