Let the Games Begin: Rules Are Set for CNN's Upcoming Trump-Biden Debate

AP Photo/Chris Seward

The rules have been set for the June 27th presidential candidate debate, which is scheduled to run 90 minutes long. The debate will be hosted in Atlanta by CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, and will break recent tradition by not having a studio audience.


CNN sent letters with the rules outlined to the prospective candidates' campaigns and both Trump and Biden agreed. Independents like RFK can only participate if they get 15 percent of support in four national polls and if they are on the ballot in enough states to equal 270 electoral votes. RFK currently only holds six states and 89 potential electoral votes.

The position of the podiums will be determined by a coin flop. There will be two commercial breaks and candidates will not be able to speak to their campaign members during the break. The candidates will only be allowed to have a pen, paper, and bottle of water provided by CNN. They may not bring notes or props. 

Mics will be muted when it is not the candidates' speaking time, and moderators "will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion."

Thursday night, Trump said that while speaking to Logan Paul's "IMPAULSIVE" Podcast, he thinks CNN was surprised he would agree to the debate: 

They thought that I wouldn't do it because it's CNN, but I've done plenty of CNN. I did a town hall not so long ago with CNN that worked out well. But I think they’ll be fair. I think they’re gonna try to be fair. As fair as they can be.

Still, he didn't hold back his criticism of Tapper and highlighted his "win" in getting the debate to be standing, in contrast to seated, as requested by the Biden campaign:

"Fake [Jake] Tapper and lots of other people that were involved on CNN, [the Biden campaign] wanted to be seated, which I didn't like. I said we should stand and I think we won that point," Trump said. "But I would have agreed to whatever I had agreed to because they didn't want to do it. 


The fact that he was able to get Biden to agree to a debate at all was seen as a victory. Trump feels so confident going in that he is willing to do it on Democratic "home turf":

"They didn't want to do it. They thought I'd turn CNN down. Look, CNN is the enemy and they thought I was going to turn CNN and Tapper [down]," Trump said.

As for the fairness of the debate, Trump backtracks on his own optimist statements with a low prediction: 

"They might be [fair]," Trump said. "I'd say a good 10% chance."

The country is eager to see the two candidates face off. There are many contentious issues to be covered in a short amount of time. After all, it's been an eventful four years. The mental focus and stamina of President Biden will be put to the test once and for all. There will be no one there to aid or cover for him. Many already have their presidential candidate chosen, but others are looking to this debate to confirm them in the way they are leaning. Let the games begin.


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