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Trump and Biden buck presidential debate commission, agree to June face-off

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and Donald Trump have agreed to debate each other on June 27 in Atlanta.

CNN announced the debate on Wednesday morning after Biden called for a June debate and Trump accepted

Joe Biden wants to debate Donald Trump twice. He wants the first debate in June

The network said the debate would take place at 9pm EDT in Georgia.

Trump and Biden also appeared to agree in dueling social media posts to a second debate on September 10 that they said ABC News would host.

“Trump says he’ll arrange his own transportation. I’ll bring my plane, too. I plan on keeping it for another four years,” Biden said.

Trump labeled Biden “the WORST PRESIDENT in the History of the United States” as he accepted.

Biden said earlier in the day that he was willing to debate Trump twice before the general election — and proposed the first face-off take place in June, setting the stage for the earliest head-to-head competition among the major parties’ candidate in modern history.

Biden’s campaign informed the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has hosted the matches since 1988, that it would not be participating in a series of debates scheduled for the fall. The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, the Biden campaign said it wants the first to debate to take place June, when Trump’s hush money trail in New York is “likely to be over” and after Biden returns from the Group of Seven Summit in mid June before Republicans officially award their nomination. It proposed a second debate in September “prior to the beginning of early voting,” echoing a Trump campaign demand.

It also proposed a vice presidential debate to take place in late July after the Republicans officially nominate Trump and his running mate to be on their ticket.

The general election involved three presidential debates and a vice presidential debate for nearly two decades, until one was abruptly called off in 2020 when Trump rejected the commission’s plan to make it virtual following his positive COVID-19 diagnosis. The last time that two debates were held was in 1996. Both matches and the vice presidential debate took place in October that year.

Debates put forward by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates — the corporation that has traditionally picked the times, locations and moderators of sparring matches — were due to begin on September 16.

Trump’s team had previously called for earlier debates on account of early voting. And the GOP candidate accepted Biden’s proposed timeframe for the debates in a social media post almost immediately.

The presumptive GOP nominee said he was “Ready and Willing to Debate” him “at the two proposed times in June and September.”

“I would strongly recommend more than two debates and, for excitement purposes, a very large venue, although Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds,” he wrote. “That’s only because he doesn’t get them. Just tell me when, I’ll be there. ‘Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!'”

It did not take long for the candidates to accept an offer.

“I’ve received and accepted an invitation from @CNN for a debate on June 27th. Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place,” Biden said in an X post.

Trump agreed and told FOX NEWS that he would debate Biden on that day in Atlanta. His campaign said in a memo that Trump was also willing to debate in September.

“But we believe there should be more than just two opportunities for the American people to hear more from the candidates themselves,” it told the Biden campaign. “We should have one debate per month.”

The debate commission was silent on Wednesday morning. But it said in a statement in early May that it considered early voting when it made its choices.

North Carolina will begin sending out ballots on September 6, it said. Early voting in Pennsylvania begins on the day of its first scheduled debate. “Every other state starts early voting later, as of the most recently published information.”

“Let’s pick the dates”

Trump and Biden had been sparring over the timing of the debates for weeks.

In a video posted to social media on Wednesday morning, Biden took a jab at Trump for refusing to participate in a single Republican primary debate this cycle. He said he’d make good on a promise to debate Trump, telling him, “Make my day pal, I’ll even do it twice.

“Let’s pick the dates Donald, I hear you’re free on Wednesdays,” Biden said, making a veiled reference to Trump’s ongoing criminal trial.

Biden’s campaign further stipulated in a statement that the president plans to participate in debates that are hosted by news outlets. It complained that the commission’s debates are structured like an “entertainment spectacle and not a serious exchange of ideas that reflect the enormous stakes of the election” and dinged the organization for past failings to enforce its own rules.

It said it wants the first debate to be hosted by a television network that hosted a Republican primary debate in 2016 that participated in and a Democratic debate in 2020 that Biden participated in “so neither campaign can assert that the sponsoring organization is obviously unacceptable.” They should also be “one-on-one” the Biden campaign said, “allowing voters to compare the only two candidates with any statistical chance of prevailing in the Electoral College.”

The latter stipulation was intended to ensure that third-party candidates such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are not allowed on stage. Prior debates have had a 15% debate threshold. Kennedy had 8% support in the latest USA TODAY/Suffolk University survey.

Kennedy subsequently accused Trump and Biden of trying to avoid a robust discussion about their time in office.

“They are trying to exclude me from their debate because they are afraid I would win. Keeping viable candidates off the debate stage undermines democracy,” he said n a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Contributing: David Jackson, Joey Garrison and Rachel Ba