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The Biden-Trump debate dates have been set

The first presidential debate will take place in late June, with a second to follow in September.


President Joe Biden and presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump will face off on June 27, after a public back-and-forth on Wednesday morning that culminated in both candidates agreeing to a CNN invitation for a debate.

The debate will be held at 9 p.m. ET at the network's studios in Atlanta. CNN said there will be no audience at the debate, fulfilling a key demand from Biden's camp. More details about the format and moderators will be released at a later date, the network said.

Biden and Trump announced later Wednesday that they'd accepted an ABC News invitation for a second debate on Sept. 10.

The fast-moving set-up for the debates was a clear rebuff to the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates' usual role in the process. Biden's campaign chair, Jen O'Malley Dillon, had informed the commission on Wednesday morning that the president wouldn’t participate in its three scheduled debates, citing a conflict with early voting and the commission's failure to enforce its own rules in the 2020 debates.

O’Malley also took issue with the commission’s model of holding debates in front of large audiences “with raucous or disruptive partisans and donors, who consume valuable debate time with noisy spectacles of approval or jeering.”

In its letter to the commission, the Biden campaign proposed two debates hosted by broadcast networks instead, with strict time limits for each speaker and only Trump and Biden participating. One debate should take place in June, after Trump's New York hush money trial is likely wrapped and after the G-7 Summit, and another in early September, the campaign said.

Biden posted a video on social media on Wednesday morning challenging Trump to two debates, and the former president quickly accepted, while mocking his rival’s request for no audiences. Trump's campaign has also proposed two additional debates in July and August.

The June debate will be the first time that the two men come face to face in public since the turbulent 2020 election.

Trump, who is heavy on performance and light on substance, has not fared particularly well in past debates. He did not participate in any of the four debates during the 2024 GOP presidential primary. In 2020, the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled a second scheduled match-up between Trump and Biden after the then-president refused to debate virtually due to his Covid diagnosis.

Trump and his 2020 campaign also attacked the commission and the debate moderators, accusing them of somehow rigging the debates in Biden's favor.

On Wednesday morning, however, Trump appeared indifferent on the subject of moderators in an interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. "You know, what difference does it make?" he said. "I’d be willing to take anybody."