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Biden and Trump Agree to June and September Debates

-Editorial

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump reached an agreement to engage in two campaign debates, set for June and September respectively. The first debate, slated for June 27, will be hosted by CNN, while the second, scheduled for September 10, will be facilitated by ABC. 

This agreement followed Biden’s announcement of his decision not to participate in fall presidential debates organized by the nonpartisan commission responsible for overseeing them for over three decades. Instead, Biden’s campaign proposed that media outlets directly manage the debates with the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees. Trump promptly responded to Biden’s challenge, expressing his readiness to debate on his Truth Social platform.

Hours after Trump’s acceptance, Biden confirmed his participation in the CNN-hosted debate on June 27, throwing the gauntlet back to Trump with the words, “Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, anytime, any place.” Trump reciprocated the enthusiasm, declaring his presence with a resounding, “Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!” The agreement extended to the second debate hosted by ABC, with Trump expressing his “great honor” in accepting both invitations.

Biden’s campaign initially proposed excluding third-party candidates, like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., from the debates outright. However, networks left the door open for Kennedy’s participation should he meet polling and ballot access requirements similar to the commission’s guidelines.

These developments mark the beginning of the 2024 United States presidential debates, a series of engagements crucial in shaping public opinion and guiding electoral decisions. With both major party nominees committing to televised debates ahead of the 2024 election, the stage is set for a exchange of ideas and policies.

The decision to bypass the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) schedule echoes the Republican National Committee’s earlier withdrawal from the commission in April 2022, citing bias and signaling a growing rift between political entities and traditional debate platforms. Despite tensions, major news organizations issued an open plea to the nominees, emphasizing the debates’ indispensable role in American democracy.

Independent Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. challenged President Trump to a debate at the Libertarian Convention in late May. 

In an open letter published on X, Kennedy pointed to the results of the recent Zogby poll showing Kennedy beating Trump in a two-way race. He also noted two other polls (CNN and Quinnipiac) showing him above the 15% threshold for inclusion in the Presidential debates.

Then Kennedy said: “You yourself have said you’re not afraid to debate me as long as my poll numbers are decent. Well, they are. In fact, I’m the only presidential candidate in history who has polled ahead of both major party candidates in head-to-head races. So let’s meet in a couple of weeks and show the American public that at least two of the major candidates aren’t afraid to debate each other. “

The Trump campaign has recently become nervous that Kennedy is drawing support from his supporters at least as much as President Biden’s. In the open letter, Kennedy referenced Trump’s “wavering supporters,” challenging him to defend a record for voters who are “upset that you blew up the deficit, shut down their businesses during Covid, and filled your administration with swamp creatures.”

Both the Biden and Trump campaigns are taking Kennedy more and more seriously with each success of his ballot access drive. The Kennedy-Shanahan ticket is officially on the ballot in three states — Utah, Michigan, and California. The campaign has collected enough signatures for ballot access in seven other states — New Hampshire, Nevada, Hawaii, North Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska, and Iowa.

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