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Biden and Trump agree on June and September debates – NBC Chicago

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump agreed Wednesday to hold two campaign debates in June and September — the first on June 27 hosted by CNN — but their camps appeared far apart on key details like the ground rules of presidential confrontations.

The quick agreement on the meeting’s schedule follows the Democrat’s announcement that he would not participate in the fall presidential debates sponsored by the nonpartisan commission that has organized them for more than three decades. Biden’s campaign instead proposed that the media directly organize the debates with the presumptive Democratic and Republican candidates, with the former taking place in late June and the latter in September before early voting begins. Trump, in a post on his Truth Social site, said he was “ready and willing to debate” Biden at the proposed times.

Hours later, Biden said he had accepted an invitation from CNN to a debate on June 27, adding: “Over to you, Donald. Like you said: anywhere, anytime, anywhere. » Trump told Fox News Digital that he accepted the invitation: “I’ll be there,” he told the outlet.

Yet the two sides appeared to have significant differences on key issues about how to organize the debates, including agreement on media partners, moderators, venue and rules – some of the very issues that have led to the formation of the Commission on Presidential Debates in 1987. Biden’s proposal would exclude third-party candidates, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Trump’s team did not immediately weigh in on the details of Biden’s proposal, but Trump expressed his desire to have a large live audience.

“I would highly recommend more than two debates and, for excitement, a very large venue, even though Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds – that’s only because he doesn’t understand them,” Trump said . “Just tell me when, I’ll be there.”

Trump has pushed for more and earlier debates, arguing that voters should be able to see the two men face off well before early voting begins in September. He has repeatedly said he would debate Biden “anytime, anywhere, anywhere,” even proposing that the two men face off in front of the Manhattan courthouse where he is currently on trial. criminal in a secret money case. He also taunted Biden with an empty lectern at some of his rallies.

Biden’s campaign has long resented the nonpartisan commission for failing to uniformly enforce its rules during the 2020 Biden-Trump clashes — notably when it failed to apply its COVID-19 testing rules to Trump and his entourage — and Biden’s team has held discussions with television networks and some Republicans about ways to circumvent the commission’s hold on the presidential debates.

Biden campaign chairwoman Jen O’Malley Dillon sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday to say that Biden’s campaign opposed the fall dates chosen by the commission, which come after some Americans began voting, repeating a complaint also voiced by the Trump campaign. She also expressed frustration with rule violations and the commission’s insistence on holding proceedings in front of a live audience.

“Debates should be conducted for the benefit of American voters, whether watched on television or at home, not as entertainment for an in-person audience surrounded by noisy or disruptive supporters and donors,” a- she declared. “As was the case with the original televised debates in 1960, a television studio with only the candidates and moderators is a better and more cost-effective way to go: focused solely on the interests of the voters.

Nor has Trump lost much love for the commission, which struggled with technical issues during its first debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and was upset after a debate with Biden in 2020 after the Republican contracted COVID-19. The Republican National Committee had already promised not to work in committee on the 2024 elections.

The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The Trump campaign released a statement on May 1 objecting to the commission’s scheduled debates, saying the schedule “starts AFTER early voting” and “this is unacceptable” because voters deserve to hear the candidates before the vote.

Under debate commission rules, Kennedy or other third-party candidates could qualify if they gain enough ballot access to claim 270 electoral votes and if they score 15 percent or higher in a selection of polls national.

O’Malley Dillon said the debates “should be head-to-head, allowing voters to compare the only two candidates with a statistical chance of winning in the Electoral College – and not wasting debate time on candidates with no prospect of becoming president.”

The Biden campaign also proposed that the Biden-Trump debates this year be hosted by “any broadcast organization that hosted a 2016 Republican primary debate in which Donald Trump participated, and a 2020 Democratic primary debate in which the President Biden participated – so neither campaign. can argue that the sponsoring organization is obviously unacceptable: if both candidates have already debated on their airwaves, neither will be able to object to such a venue.

These criteria would eliminate Fox News, which did not hold a Democratic primary debate in 2020, and potentially NBC News, which did not hold a Republican debate in 2016 – although its affiliates CNBC and Telmundo co-hosted a debate each that year. .

Kicking off the debates, Biden and Trump traded barbs on social media – each claiming victory in their final showdown in 2020.

“Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020, since then he has not shown up for a debate,” Biden said in a post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter. “Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, buddy.”

Trump, for his part, said Biden was “the worst debater I’ve ever faced – he can’t put two sentences together!” »

The Democrat suggested the two candidates could pick dates, focusing on Trump’s secret trial in New York by noting that the Republican is “off on Wednesday,” the trial’s usual day off.

The president first indicated he would be willing to debate Trump during an interview with radio host Howard Stern last month, telling him, “I’m somewhere. I do not know when. But I’m happy to debate him.

Biden again indicated last week that he was preparing to debate, telling reporters as he left a White House event: “Hold it.”

NBC Chicago

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