Sunday, June 16, 2024

Updated Rules Agreement for Presidential Debate Announced by CNN

AP Photo

The first presidential debate will be held in less than two weeks. CNN will host the debate on June 27 in Atlanta. 

Additional details about the debates have been agreed to by the Trump and Biden campaigns. CNN announced an update on how the debate rules will be handled.

The moderators will be Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. There is no such person on CNN who is not biased toward the Democrats but Tapper and Bash are the network's usual go-to hosts for politics. The Trump campaign agreed to the choices. 

The debate rules and format have been agreed to. 

The 90-minute debate will include two commercial breaks, according to the network, and campaign staff may not interact with their candidate during that time.

Both candidates agreed to appear at a uniform podium, and their podium positions will be determined by a coin flip.

Microphones will be muted throughout the debate except for the candidate whose turn it is to speak. While no props or pre-written notes will be allowed on the stage, candidates will be given a pen, a pad of paper, and a bottle of water.

Allegedly, the Biden campaign wanted the candidates to sit, not stand, but the Trump campaign would not agree to that. Commercial breaks are somewhat unusual but the main change is that there will not be a live audience. That means no real-time reactions as the debate plays out. 

The staff will not be interacting with the candidates during commercial breaks. That means Biden's tightly sealed cocoon will be less so as he faces questions that we assume have not been pre-approved by this campaign. And, there will not be notes allowed, which will be a disadvantage for Biden, who always has a notecard or two in his hand. 

Can Joe Biden stand for 90 minutes and argue his point? Sure. He'll be pumped up with whatever his handlers pumped him up with for the State of the Union address. That speech's duration was a little less but he got through it on his feet, and then he remained in the room as he talked to people in the audience on his way out. 

It would be a mistake to set the bar too low. For instance, thinking Biden remaining on his feet for 90 minutes and being able to answer questions for the duration equals success for him is a bar he will clear. Republicans should be pointing to all the quotes from observers who claim Biden is a great debater and knowledgeable on the issues of the day.

The microphone being cut when it is not a candidate's turn to speak is an aggressive move. It is easy to think that the rule is to silence Trump. The former president isn't known to have discipline when it comes to waiting for his turn to respond. However, if you watch their 2020 performances, you will see that Biden also was undisciplined. He cut in when he didn't like what Trump was saying. 

I think the real difference in this debate is the lack of an audience. In past debates, Trump used guests effectively to make a splash - like in 2016 when women who accused Bill Clinton of abuse were seated up front during his debate against Hillary Clinton. Trump feeds off an audience's response to him. 

It's possible, but unlikely, that another candidate may join Trump and Biden on the stage. 

In order to meet CNN’s qualifications for the debate, candidates must satisfy the requirements outlined in Article II, Section 1 of the US Constitution to serve as president. Both Biden and Trump meet those requirements, as do Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West, and Jill Stein, who are running on non-major-party tickets.

Participants must also file a formal statement of candidacy to the Federal Election Commission. All five have done so.

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.

Will Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. make it to the debate stage? I don't think so and, frankly, neither Trump nor Biden wants that. They know that Kennedy pulls from both of them but usually from Biden more than Trump. 

No matter what happens, as long as Biden remains standing, he will be declared the winner by the media. We've seen this show before. The good news is that Trump is more experienced as a politician. His campaign is more experienced and disciplined this time. I assume that Trump will prepare, as Biden is scheduled to prepare this week. It is to Trump's advantage that he has already debated Biden.

Remember, Paul Ryan is on record as saying Joe Biden has noticeably aged since he debated Biden in 2012 during the Obama-Romney presidential race. He said Biden is not who he was in 2012. 

Biden is not up for another four years in office. It's clear to anyone who sees or hears him. Democrats are admitting this, too, but he's their guy. Trump will be a sharp contrast to Biden, which is good news for Team Trump.