Biden proposes changes to presidential debates

Washington, May 15 (IANS): The 2024 version of the presidential debate, a key element of US politics, will be significantly different and fewer, if President Joe Biden’s proposal sent on Wednesday is accepted by the body that organises them and, more importantly, by former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

In a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has organised these debates for decades now, the Biden campaign has proposed two debates, instead of the three scheduled by the body as before, and to be held in June and September, instead of in September and October, without live audiences, and with a provision to automatically switch off the microphone when the candidate’s time elapsed.

The letter, signed by Biden campaign chair Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, which was first reported by The New York Times, also stated that the President will only participate in the debates if they are hosted by a news organisation.

Also, the Biden campaign wants the debates to take place between him and Trump, no third person, who is not named but is clearly Robert Kennedy Jr.

"Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020," Biden said in a video released by his campaign.

"Since then he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal, I’ll even do it twice. So let’s pick the dates, Donald – I hear you’re free on Wednesdays," he added, referring to the ongoing trial in New York, which takes a break on Wednesdays.

In a post on X, Biden went on to say: "I’ve received and accepted an invitation from @CNN for a debate on June 27th. Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place."

Trump accepted the offer and said in an earlier post on Truth Social, his social media platform, that he accepted the offer.

"I am Ready and Willing to debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times, June and September."

He added that he would prefer a "large venue" for "excitement purposes". But his real intent may become clear when the two campaigns actually get down to negotiating the details. He did not participate in the Republican primary debates despite repeated calls from his rivals.

The changes proposed by the Biden campaign seek to prevent a repeat of the 2020 debates. In the first, Trump had repeatedly interrupted Biden and spoke over him which forced an exasperated Biden to say: "Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential."

Trump had also famously shown up ill and had shortly after announced he had contracted coronavirus.

The Biden campaign was furious that the commission, which is an independent and non-partisan body, failed to ensure adherence to its rules. The Trump family members had taken off their masks before sitting. The debate was held at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had gone on to take the heaviest toll in the United States.



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