Biden formally agrees to debate Trump “with terms” – first debate set for June 27th

by | May 15, 2024

Joe Biden is willing to debate President Trump at least twice before the election, with the possibility of starting as early as June. However, the Biden campaign is rejecting the nonpartisan organization that has traditionally managed presidential debates since 1988.

In the letter, the Biden campaign outlines his terms for participating in the debates. They propose starting the debates much earlier than the dates suggested by the Commission on Presidential Debates to ensure voters can see the candidates side by side well before early voting begins in September.

Additionally, they prefer the debates to take place inside a TV studio with microphones that automatically cut off when a speaker's time limit ends. They also advocate for a format involving just the two candidates and the moderator, excluding in-person audiences and without the participation of independent or third-party candidates.

The proposal indicates that Biden is prepared to take strategic gambles to shift the trajectory of a race where most polls in battleground states depict him trailing Trump and facing challenges in convincing voters of his effectiveness as a leader and an economic steward.

This marks the first formal offer from the Biden campaign for debates with Presidenf Trump, who has consistently stated his willingness to debate his opponent “anytime and anywhere” and has called for as many debates as feasible.

The letter, signed by Biden’s campaign chair, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, and addressed to the Commission on Presidential Debates, informs the group that Biden will not participate in the three general-election debates sponsored by the commission, scheduled for Sept. 16, Oct. 1, and Oct. 9

In the letter, Ms. O’Malley Dillon outlines that Biden will engage in debates hosted by news organizations instead. Additionally, Biden has recorded a video to reaffirm his intention to debate Trump. This decision allows both the Biden and potentially the Trump teams to negotiate directly with networks and with each other for potential debates, according to the New York Times.

Ms. O’Malley Dillon proposes that the first debate take place in late June, after Trump’s New York witch hunt trial concludes and following Biden's return from the Group of 7 summit meetings. She suggests a second presidential debate be held in early September, at the beginning of the fall campaign season, to influence early voting without requiring candidates to leave the campaign trail during the crucial late September and October period.

Additionally, the Biden campaign proposes that one vice-presidential debate be held in late July, following the formal nomination of President Trump and his running mate at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

The Biden campaign's debate proposal includes conditions that offer clear advantages to Biden. Firstly, they propose limiting the number of debates to two, whereas the commission has scheduled three presidential debates.

Biden campaign officials advocate for holding the debates in a television studio without an in-person audience, aiming to prevent disruptions like those seen during a CNN town hall last year, where Trump supporters cheered and booed. The commission traditionally invites an audience to its presidential debates.

The letter emphasizes the importance of a one-on-one debate to enable voters to compare the only two candidates with a statistical chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, rather than wasting time on candidates with no realistic prospect of becoming president.

The Biden campaign has put forward rules, such as the automatic cutting-off of microphones, to prevent the exceeding of  time limits.

The Biden campaign has also proposed criteria to limit which television networks are eligible to host the debate. The letter states that the debate should only be hosted by broadcast organizations that hosted both a Republican primary debate in 2016, in which Trump participated, and a Democratic primary debate in 2020, in which Biden participated. This ensures that neither campaign can claim the sponsoring organization is biased.

Networks that meet this criterion include CBS News, ABC News, CNN, and Telemundo.

The letter also suggests that the debate moderators should be selected by the broadcast host from among their regular personnel to avoid any perception of bias or partisanship.

Update: Trump has accepted Biden’s offer for a June debate, stating ‘Let’s get ready to Rumble!’ on Truth social. The first debate will be hosted on June 27th by CNN. Both candidates have also agreed to a debate on September 10th, hosted by ABC News.


Source: CNN

ABC News

The Hill

The New York Times




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