Trump accepts Biden debate challenge, setting up a June showdown

Joe Biden, shunning the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, challenged Donald Trump to a series of TV studio confrontations that will take place this summer, before early voting takes place.

In a video posted by his campaign, Biden dared his GOP rival to fight him over the course of two debates.

“Let’s pick the dates, Donald, I hear you’re free on Wednesdays,” Biden says, mocking Trump over his ongoing hush money trial, in which the court breaks for recess every Wednesday.

Trump has now accepted at least one of those debates, to be hosted by CNN in its Atlanta studios on June 27.

Biden had delivered his challenge via a letter sent to the Trump campaign and the commission. According to the New York Times, the letter proposed two debates that will take place in a TV studio in June and September, respectively  long before the dates proposed by the commission, and without the participation of third-party candidates or a potentially raucous audience.

Biden, seeking to preempt a repeat of the 2020 debates in which Trump persistently interrupted both him and the moderator, also wants the inclusion of microphones that will automatically cut off when the speaker runs out the clock.

Though the rejection of the commission-hosted debates might come as a surprise to observers who have known Biden as a Washington institutionalist, his campaign possesses a number of grievances towards this particular institution. Biden’s national campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon wrote in the letter that the commission could not be trusted to run a professional debate after failing to enforce its own rules on a garrulous Trump in 2020; letting Trump attend the second 2020 debate despite showing signs of COVID-19; and declining to schedule the 2024 debates before October to account for increased early voting. The Trump campaign has also complained about the scheduling.

Trump, who has ostensibly wanted to debate Biden as many times as possible, “anytime and anywhere,” quickly accepted the proposed face off mere hours after receiving the letter. Both candidates see the debates as an opportunity: Trump hopes that such a clash would expose Biden’s alleged feebleness, while Biden is gambling that drawing a clear contrast early in the general election reminding people of why they booted Trump from the White House in 2020 will drive up early voter turnout, which has tended to favor Democrats.


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