Biden Challenges Trump To Audience-Free Debates On His Friendliest Networks

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Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden proposed two dates to debate former President Donald Trump Wednesday morning, with a list of guardrails including no live audience, according to The New York Times.

Biden suggested that Trump and himself face off in two televised debates, one in June and one in September, though the president said he will not participate in an event put on by the Commission on Presidential Debates, according to the NYT. The president also said he did not want to debate in front of a live audience, rather his team wants the debates held in a television studio to avoid the reaction from in-person viewers.

“Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020. Since then, he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal, I’ll even do it twice,” Biden said in a Wednesday debate message.

“So let’s pick dates Donald, I hear you’re free Wednesdays,” the president continued, alluding to Trump’s court appearances.

Later Wednesday morning, Biden said that he “received and accepted” a debate invitation from CNN scheduled for June 27, before telling Trump, “anywhere, any time, any place.” Trump accepted the invitation as well, setting the stage for the first debate in the general election.

Biden then announced shortly before noon that he “received and accepted” a debate invitation from ABC scheduled for Sept. 10. Trump also accepted the ABC offer.

As a part of their debate dates proposal Biden also only wants networks that hosted the 2016 Republican primary debates and the 2020 Democratic primary debates in 2020, the NYT reported. Those networks include CNN, ABC News, Telemundo and CBS News.

“There should be firm time limits for answers, and alternate turns to speak — so that the time is evenly divided and we have an exchange of views, not a spectacle of mutual interruption,” Jen O’Malley Dillon, Biden campaign chair, said in a letter obtained by the NYT.

“A candidate’s microphone should only be active when it is his turn to speak, to promote adherence to the rules and orderly proceedings,” she continued.

The Biden campaign also wrote that they wanted to keep the forum to two candidates, excluding independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy, the NYT reported. If the debates were handled by the Commission on Presidential Debates, Kennedy has potential to reach the 15% polling threshold, the qualifying number to be on the stage. Kennedy did announce Wednesday evening that he “will meet the criteria” to participate in CNN’s debate before the deadline.

“I look forward to holding Presidents Biden and Trump accountable for their records in Atlanta on June 27 to give Americans the debate they deserve,” he said.

Trump responded to the proposal, agreeing to the time of the event, in a statement on Truth Social.

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

Outside of the forums proposed by Biden, the former president said in a social media post that he agreed to attend a debate on Fox News set for Oct. 2.

The Trump campaign had been calling on Biden to debate the former president after the president admitted in an interview with Howard Stern that he was interested in debating. (RELATED: Biden Campaign Silent As Trump World Openly Lobs Debate Challenge)

“I don’t know if you’re gonna debate your opponent,” Stern said.

“I am, somewhere. I don’t know when, but I’m happy to debate him,” Biden replied.

Trump responded with a message of his own on May 9, telling Biden to set up a debate.

“Let’s set it up right now,” Trump said in a video message on Truth Social. “I’m ready to go anywhere that you are.”

The Biden campaign justified their decision to ditch the Commission on Presidential Debates, citing concerns about the original dates proposed, the Washington Post reported. The campaign also voiced concerns over the ability to get candidates to stay within the rules of the commission, the letter reportedly read.

“The Commission’s model of building huge spectacles with large audiences at great expense simply isn’t necessary or conducive to good debates,” Dillon wrote in a letter obtained by the Washington Post. “The debates should be conducted for the benefit of the American voters, watching on television and at home — not as entertainment for an in-person audience with raucous or disruptive partisans and donors, who consume valuable debate time with noisy spectacles of approval or jeering.”