Biden, Trump Dump Debate Commission

Candidates agree to their own debates in June and September, accept an offer from CNN
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2024 10:30 AM CDT
Biden, Trump Dump Debate Commission
In this combination photo, President Biden, left, speaks May 2 in Wilmington, North Carolina, and former President Trump speaks at a campaign rally on May 1 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.   (AP Photo)

President Biden and former President Trump are apparently ready to verbally rumble—without the assistance of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has been overseeing presidential debates since the late 1980s. As Politico reports, team Biden proposed two debates, one in June and another in September, with both to be orchestrated by the Trump and Biden campaigns instead of the independent commission. Trump's camp quickly accepted, and while details were initially murky, both campaigns quickly snapped up an offer from CNN for the first debate. What we know:

  • Snub, I: Biden's campaign chair sent a letter to the commission outlining the reasons for bypassing it. Among them: Their scheduled debates take place too late, "after tens of millions of Americans will have already voted"; they're more spectacle than substantive; and the commission fails to enforce the rules. On the latter point, Politico notes that Trump repeatedly talked over both Biden and the moderators during the 2020 debates.

  • That CNN offer: "I've received and accepted an invitation from @CNN for a debate on June 27th. Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place," Biden said in a post on X. Trump later told CNN, "The answer is yes, I will accept."
  • Earlier from Biden: "Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020. Since then, he hasn't shown up for a debate. Now he's acting like he wants to debate me again," Biden said in a video. "Well, make my day, pal. I'll even do it twice."
  • Trump's response: While he said he wants more than two debates, he said on social media he's "Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times in June and September."
  • What's not clear: Basically everything else, especially for the latter debate. The two campaigns haven't ironed out venues, rules, etc., reports the AP.
  • Snub, II: One thing both sides appear to agree on is that independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will not get a place on the stage.
(More Election 2024 stories.)

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