CNN Unveils Rules for Biden-Trump Debate

In a change from past debates, CNN will silence each candidate’s microphone while the other is speaking.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will each be given two breaks during a CNN debate this month and will not be able to communicate with their campaign teams during the event, the network announced.

Biden and Trump agreed last month to a live debate at CNN’s studio in Atlanta, Georgia on June 27. The debate, the first direct confrontation of the 2024 election cycle, will be moderated by CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, without a studio audience present.

CNN released a number of additional details on Saturday. According to the network, both candidates will stand at podiums determined by a coin toss, and will not be permitted to use any props or pre-written notes. Biden and Trump will each be given a pen, a notepad, and a bottle of water.

Each candidate’s microphone will be muted while the other speaks, and the 90-minute debate will be interrupted by two commercial breaks, during which Biden and Trump are prohibited from interacting with their campaign staff.

The debate was organized after months of challenges from Trump, who said in March that he would face off against Biden “any time, anywhere, any place.” After multiple non-committal responses, Biden released a video message last month calling on Trump to “make my day, pal.”

Biden and Trump agreed to the CNN debate on June 27 and an ABC News debate on September 10, while Trump has also urged his opponent to accept two more debates – on Fox News and NBC News – before November’s election.

Trump and Biden debated twice before the 2020 election, with both candidates declaring victory. In the lead-up to this year’s debates, Trump has repeatedly mocked his 81-year-old opponent’s tendency for verbal mistakes and slip-ups.

“Crooked Joe Biden is the worst debater I have ever faced – he can’t put two sentences together,” Trump said in a statement last month. “Let’s see if Joe can make it to the stand-up podium.”

Meanwhile, Biden told ABC News this month that he intends to let Trump “say what he thinks,” betting that the American public will be surprised by the former president’s “off the wall” remarks.

The CNN debate is open to any candidate who has received at least 15% support in four separate national polls and is registered on ballots in enough states to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency. Only Trump and Biden meet these requirements at present, although independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has received 15% in three polls and is on the ballot in six states worth 89 electoral votes. Earlier this week, Kennedy claimed to have collected enough signatures for ballot access in 22 states, totaling 304 electoral votes.