Biden, Trump Debate Rules Include Muted Microphones

Moderators say they're aiming for a 'civilized discussion'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2024 5:30 PM CDT
Biden, Trump Campaigns Agree to Muting, Other Debate Rules
CNN anchors Jake Tapper, left, and Dana Bash, right, speak to members of the audience before the start of the CNN Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 10. They'll moderate the Biden-Trump debate on June 27.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The campaigns of President Biden and Donald Trump agreed Saturday to debate rules proposed by CNN, which warned that unlike four years ago, "moderators will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion." The 90-minute event will be held on June 27 in Atlanta, with no audience. The network appears to be trying to avoid a rerun of the first 2020 debate, Politico reports, in which Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden, who eventually snapped, "Will you shut up, man?" The rules cover:

  • The setup: Which candidate stands at which lectern will be decided by a coin flip, the New York Times reports. Each lectern will be equipped with a pen, pad of paper, and water bottle. Bringing pre-written notes or props onstage is prohibited.

  • The opening: There will be no opening statements from Biden and Trump. CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will just begin asking questions.
  • The format: A question will be asked, and the candidate it's directed to will have two minutes to answer. A one-minute rebuttal by the other candidate, and then a one-minute response to the rebuttal, will follow. The candidates will each have an extra minute to be used at the discretion of the moderators.
  • Enforcement: Red lights visible to the candidates will flash when they have five seconds left to talk, then turn solid red when time is up. The microphone of the candidate who's not supposed to be talking will be muted.
  • Breaks: CNN will cut to commercials twice during the debate. Aides will not be allowed to interact with the candidates during the breaks.
  • In closing: Biden and Trump will each be allowed to give a closing statement lasting two minutes.
Although the two have been through this before, neither of them has participated in a debate since their last one in 2020. That's the longest debate stage absence, the Times points out, since general-election debates became a fixture in 1976. (More presidential debate stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.