Updated May 15, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden, Trump agree to June presidential debate hosted by CNN

This is Joe Biden

Photo: Samuel Corum/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden and former President Trump have agreed to participate in a June 27 presidential debate hosted by CNN.

Why it matters: The CNN debate sets up a televised confrontation before either candidate's nomination is formally complete and marks their first televised matchup since 2020.

  • The candidates are threatening to cut the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which has managed debates since 1988, out of the process.

Driving the news: The debate will be held in CNN's Atlanta studios, the network announced Wednesday. CNN said no audience members will be present.

  • CNN announced Wednesday that its news anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate the June 27 debate.

Zoom in: The CNN announcement comes after Biden earlier on Wednesday said that he had received an invitation from CNN for a debate on June 27.

  • "Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place," Biden wrote on the social media platform X.
  • Trump accepted the invitation shortly after and in a memo proposed additional debates in July and August. "We believe there should be more than just two opportunities for the American people to hear more from the candidates themselves," per the campaign memo.

Catch up quick: Biden's campaign earlier on Wednesday offered to debate Trump twice in one-on-one settings, well before most early voting has concluded.

  • "Trump lost two debates to me in 2020. Since then he hasn't shown up for a debate," Biden said in a video released Wednesday morning.
  • "Now he's acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal. I'll even do it twice. First pick the dates, Donald. I hear you're free on Wednesdays," Biden said, referencing Trump's current New York hush money criminal trial schedule.

Trump quickly replied 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," he posted.

State of play: Trump's campaign previously requested more — and earlier — debates.

  • "We have already indicated President Trump is willing to debate anytime, anyplace, and anywhere — and the time to start these debates is now," his campaign co-campaign managers wrote in a letter to the commission in April.

Between the lines: The Biden campaign views the current debates as "structured like an entertainment spectacle" that doesn't enforce its own rules, per a letter to the commission released Wednesday.

  • The campaign instead wants to work directly with broadcast networks that host both GOP and Democratic primary debates.
  • The letter proposes just the two candidates and a moderator, with no audience.
  • It also suggests microphones that cut off automatically at time limits and when it's not a candidate's turn to speak.
  • Biden's offer would include a vice presidential debate in July.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional context and comments from President Biden and former President Trump and the announcement of the debate moderators from CNN.

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