CNN Finalizes Trump, Biden Debate Rules


Julianna Frieman Contributor
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CNN finalized its rules Saturday for the first 2024 presidential debate between presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

The 90-minute debate, hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash in Atlanta, comes with various caveats historically unheard of for its presidential participants. From muting microphones to barring a live studio audience, the network made clear its unprecedented restrictions two weeks ahead of the widely anticipated face-off.

CNN revealed that two commercial breaks will interrupt the debate, further stating that campaign staff will be prevented from interacting with candidates during this time.

Participants are also banned from using cheat sheets, which may pose a problem for Biden as the Democratic president has notoriously been caught using prepared notecards to answer pre-screened questions. On the other hand, Trump is known for taking pride in his ability to speak without a teleprompter. (RELATED: ‘Great News’: Sean Hannity Says Biden’s Debate Rules ‘Extraordinarily Favorable’ For Trump)

Despite previous reports that Trump and Biden would sit at a table, the network announced that both candidates will appear at individual podiums. A coin toss will determine which podium each candidate will use, and both men will receive a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water. No other props are permitted on stage.

Microphones will be muted as candidates are expected to speak one at a time, but CNN has not explicitly stated whether Tapper and Bash will be in charge of this. However, the network did state that moderators “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure civilized discussion.” This rule comes roughly four years after Trump and Biden infamously talked over each other during the 2020 presidential debates.

There will be no live studio audience during the executive showdown, CNN announced. Additionally, only Trump and Biden are eligible to participate as Independent 2024 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has failed to meet CNN’s requirements.

“All participating debaters must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency and receive at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters that meet CNN’s standards for reporting. Polls that meet those standards are those sponsored by CNN, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, Marquette University Law School, Monmouth University, NBC News, The New York Times/Siena College, NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College, Quinnipiac University, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post,” the network clarified.

CNN’s debate on June 27 breaks tradition of waiting until after both parties’ nominating conventions. Biden and Trump are not yet officially their respective parties’ 2024 presidential candidate.

The Republican National Convention takes place between July 15 and 18 in Milwaukee. The Democratic National Convention is scheduled between Aug. 19 and 22, leaving more than seven weeks open between the debate and officiating Biden’s nomination.