Biden and Trump campaigns agree to muting and other debate rules

The campaigns of President Biden and Donald Trump agreed Saturday to debate the rules proposed by CNN, which warned that unlike four years ago, “moderators will use all tools at their disposal to fine tune the timing.” and to guarantee a civilized discussion.” The 90-minute event will take place on June 27 in Atlanta, without an audience. The network appears to be trying to avoid a repeat of the first debate of 2020, Politico reports, in which Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden, who eventually snapped: “Will you shut up, man?” The rules relate to:

  • The set-up: Which candidate stands at which lectern is determined by a coin, the New York Times reports. Each desk will be equipped with a pen, notepad and water bottle. It is forbidden to take pre-written notes or props on stage.
  • The opening: There will be no opening statements from Biden and Trump. CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash just start asking questions.
  • The size: A question is asked and the candidate to whom it is addressed has two minutes to respond. There will be a one-minute rebuttal by the other candidate, followed by a one-minute response to the rebuttal. The candidates will each be given an additional minute to be used at the discretion of the moderators.
  • Enforcement: Red lights visible to the candidates will flash when they have five seconds left to speak, then turn solid red when time is up. The microphone of the candidate who is not allowed to speak is muted.
  • Breaks: CNN will cut to commercials twice during the debate. During breaks, assistants are not allowed to interact with the candidates.
  • To conclude: Biden and Trump may each make a two-minute closing statement.

Although the two have been through this before, neither has participated in a debate since their last debate in 2020. That is the longest absence from the debate stage, the Time points out, since the general election debates became a fixture in 1976. (More stories about presidential debates.)