Must-Watch: Trump-Biden Debate Rules, Concerns, and Expectations

The first Trump-Biden presidential debate of 2024 is drawing intense scrutiny due to new rules, candidates' health concerns, and high stakes in an unusually early showdown.

Published June 28, 2024 - 00:06am

5 minutes read
United States

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The first 2024 presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump is set to take place, marking a critical face-off in what promises to be a tightly contested race. CNN anchors Dana Bash and Jake Tapper will moderate the debate from CNN's studio in Atlanta, Georgia, making this the earliest presidential debate in modern U.S. history.

The debate, which will last 90 minutes and is devoid of a live audience, will see Biden and Trump on stage together for the first time since 2020. The candidates will stand at uniform podiums and will only be allowed a pen, paper, and a bottle of water. To ensure a disciplined discourse, their microphones will be muted except for the candidate who is speaking.

This first debate, broadcast by CNN, also accommodates streaming options through CNN International, CNN en Español, Max, YouTube TV, FuboTV, and Hulu + Live TV. Major networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC/MSNBC will simulcast the debate, and there will be real-time analysis post-debate.

Amid these tight rules, the White House press corps has made an unusual request for direct access to the studio where the debate will take place, citing concerns related to potential medical emergencies. Their plea underscores the scrutiny both candidates face regarding their age and health. Biden, at 81, and Trump, at 78, are under intense observation for their cognitive and physical abilities. Critics have aimed pointedly at Biden, suggesting his age complicates his ability to effectively govern. Reactions range from concerns over his physical gait to verbal slip-ups that detractors believe demonstrate a decline in competency.

Biden supporters argue that the President's experience and policies will overshadow concerns about his age. Nonetheless, the anticipation is high for Biden to counteract these criticisms during the debate. Trump, similarly, has faced his own set of challenges, including his role in the January 6 Capitol riots and numerous legal woes. Moderators are expected to probe these contentious topics, which could shape the narrative among undecided voters.

Interest is further piqued by the implementation of new debate rules. Candidates are forbidden from using notes or consulting aides during breaks. Additionally, Trump and Biden will be separated by significant spatial and procedural controls to ensure no physical altercations or off-mic interactions. The absence of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who failed to meet the qualification standards, adds another layer of specificity to the debate's focus on the main party candidates.

The rules, primarily designed to maintain order and civility, have also received a fair amount of criticism. For example, the media's exclusion from livestreaming has stirred significant backlash among independent outlets, who argue that this curtails comprehensive coverage and public transparency. CNN's decision to preemptively outline these regulations highlights the contentious atmosphere surrounding the debate's preparation.

This tightly controlled environment may, according to political observers, either spotlight or obscure the candidates' weaknesses. Trump's insistence that Biden be drug-tested before the debate exemplifies the ongoing personal jousting that has come to define their rivalry. Biden, on the other hand, aims to utilize the platform to discuss pressing national concerns including inflation, border control, and international conflicts in Israel and Ukraine.

A notable segment of the public, as reflected in polls conducted by The New York Times and Siena College, shows a palpable worry about Biden's age, believing it significantly impacts his performance as president. Conversely, while Trump is only three years younger, the public perception of his vitality appears less severe. This age factor is likely to be a pivotal topic in the debate as viewers assess both candidates' responses and agility.

In the backdrop of this political theater, strategies are being meticulously planned. Both campaigns have designated spokespersons to address the media post-debate, spinning narratives that align with their wider campaign messages. Trump's potential vice-presidential picks are to be highlighted at a watch party in Atlanta, while Biden maintains the support of high-profile figures like California Governor Gavin Newsom, who may attend the debate as a guest.

Given the stakes, the first Trump-Biden debate of 2024 is not just a clash of policies but a profound test of endurance, wit, and public perception. While the formal constraints may curb chaotic outbursts, the inherent unpredictability of both candidates ensures that this event will be closely watched by millions. Whether this debate will sway public opinion or reaffirm existing stances remains to be seen, but it unquestionably sets the stage for the forthcoming election battle.


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