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President Biden and former President Trump to face off in CNN debate next weekExBulletin

President Biden and former President Trump to face off in CNN debate next weekExBulletin
President Biden and former President Trump to face off in CNN debate next weekExBulletin


Next week, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will face off in a presidential debate on CNN. The network announced the rules this weekend.


A week from Thursday, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will meet face to face in a presidential debate. There are a lot of things that are going to be different here, starting with the fact that this is happening in June, months before the election and months before when presidential candidates normally gather for debates. The debate is also hosted by CNN, not the Commission on Presidential Debates which has stuck to traditional mid-tier formats for decades. CNN announced its format and rules this weekend, and NPR's Stephen Fowler joins us now from Atlanta to talk about how it will affect the June 27 showdown. Hi, Stéphane.


DETROW: So let's zoom out, big picture. Again, presidential debates have been happening for a long time, but they're hosted by CNN, and this really shakes up that tradition in a lot of ways. How different is it going to be here?

FOWLER: So there will be no opening statements. There is no studio audience to applaud or jeer. And the network says candidates' microphones will be cut off and muted when they don't answer questions or are given rebuttal time. Speaking of time, this is a 90-minute debate with two commercial breaks – also a first – and candidates will have two minutes to respond, one minute for a rebuttal, another minute to rebut the rebuttal and another minute with the moderator. discretion. In some ways, that's a lot of time to hear from both candidates, but it's also not. I mean, that's basically five minutes on important issues like immigration, Trump's crimes, and other topics regarding the future of America. I mean, you and I are going to spend almost as much time here gathering a ton of information about the debate, but we're not long-winded politicians either.

DETROW: And I'm also not yelling at you or interrupting you or attacking you while you're speaking, which is relevant because I was in the room for that first debate of 2020 between Trump and Biden , which was truly defined by Trump's constant attacks and interruptions. , which makes me think this rule about muting microphones will be pretty important.

FOWLER: Oh, absolutely. I mean, for example, Joe Biden was asked about expanding the Supreme Court. Trump didn't like the way Biden dodged the question, and we ultimately don't remember his response because we had this exchange during the 2020 debate.


JOE BIDEN: I'm not going to answer the question because…

DONALD TRUMP: Why don't you answer that question?

BIDEN: Because the question is…

TRUMP: You want to appoint a lot of new justices to the Supreme Court…

BIDEN: The question is…

TRUMP: …The radical left.

BIDEN: Will you shut up, man?

TRUMP: Look, who's on your list, Joe? Who is on your list?

BIDEN: It's so…

CHRIS WALLACE: Gentlemen, I think we're done with that…

BIDEN: This is so unpresidential.

TRUMP: He's going to pack the court. He won't give a list.

WALLACE: We finished the segment. We will move on to the second segment.

BIDEN: It was definitely a productive segment, wasn't it?

DETROW: It brings back a lot of memories. Of course, Biden and Trump, as you've talked about so much, are not the only candidates in this race. There is so much interest from third parties this year, but they will almost certainly be the only two on the stage in this debate. Why is that?

FOWLER: So CNN has criteria. You must be constitutionally eligible to be president, meet the 15% threshold in four different high-quality polls, and have appeared on enough ballots to mathematically have a chance of being president. Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could meet that threshold, but he cannot meet the ballot-access threshold. It is only officially on the ballot in a handful of states, and although the campaign has submitted petitions for many others, they have not yet been verified. So with this debate it will not reach that threshold. And there are other candidates and campaigns, the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, etc., but it will be more of a question of which one won't win the election. In many ways, the debate could also contribute to this choice.

DETROW: That's right. And doing that early, before Kennedy could qualify for enough states to reach 270, was certainly part of the motivation for the campaigns wanting to do it sooner. What other reasons have the Trump and Biden camps pushed to do this so soon?

FOWLER: That's right. So debates usually involve grabbing soundbites to brag or attack your opponent. So both Trump and Biden are these known entities. There won't be anything new there, so they want to use this viral clip to emphasize what's at stake in the election and to hammer home their vision of what America would be like if they or their opponent won. I mean, we've done reporting and conversations with people who still don't understand that this is a Trump-Biden rematch. So by launching the debates in June, the Trump and Biden campaigns are hoping that this will be enough to get people to really start to think that, yes, this is happening.

DETROW: That's NPR's Stephen Fowler, covering the campaign for us, also a father of a toddler. Very Happy Father's Day and thanks for joining us, Stephen.

FOWLER: Happy Father's Day to you too.


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