Biden proposes debates in June and September, and names terms. Trump says yes

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President Biden walks to the Oval Office from the Rose Garden on May 14.

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden walks to the Oval Office from the Rose Garden on May 14.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden said he wants to debate former President Donald Trump twice this year — in June and November — but his campaign said he would not participate in the traditional schedule and format established by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates and laid out their own terms instead.

Trump responded in a post on his Truth Social platform, saying he was “ready and willing” to debate Biden at the two proposed times. The Republican National Committee had said in April 2022 that it would quit the Commission on Presidential Debates because of concerns about the timing of debates and over accusations of bias.

Biden is willing to take part in two debates hosted by broadcast organizations, his campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a letter that spelled out Biden’s terms. O’Malley Dillon said the commission — which has hosted debates since 1988 — is “out of step with changes in the structure of our elections and the interests of voters.”

The commission had announced back in November that there would be three debates in September and October. But O’Malley Dillon said its schedule begins too late, after tens of millions of people have cast their ballots in early voting, and said the commission failed to enforce debate rules in 2020.

Biden’s campaign also objects to the audiences which it described as “raucous or disruptive partisans and donors, who consume valuable debate time with noisy spectacles of approval or jeering.”

“As was the case with the original televised debates in 1960, a television studio

with just the candidates and moderators is a better, more cost-efficient way to proceed,” O’Malley Dillon said. Other terms include having microphones open only when it’s the candidates turn to speak.

The Biden campaign is proposing a late June debate after Biden returns from the G7 in Italy, and when Trump’s New York trial is likely to have wrapped. The second debate should be early September, “early enough to influence early voting,” she said. The vice presidential debate should be in late July, after the Republican National Convention, she said.

In his Truth Social post, Trump said he recommended more than two debates “and, for excitement purposes, a very large venue, although Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds.”

Biden’s campaign also nixed the idea of including third-party or independent candidates in the debates, saying they “should be one-on-one, allowing voters to compare the only two candidates with any statistical chance of prevailing in the Electoral College – and not squandering debate time on candidates with no prospect of becoming president.”