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Biden, Trump agree to debate rules as Kennedy inclusion remains in question

The candidates can have their microphones muted by the moderator and they're not allowed to bring notes with them to the podium.
AP Poll Biden Trump Age
Posted at 9:38 AM, Jun 17, 2024

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are set to appear in the first of two presidential debates on June 27 as debate organizers announced finalized rules for the debate.

According to CNN, moderators will be allowed to mute the candidates' microphones during the debate. CNN also said that there will be two commercial breaks during the 90-minute debate, but campaign staff will not be allowed to interact with candidates during these intermissions.

Candidates will be given a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water, but they are not allowed to bring any prewritten notes or props with them to the stage, organizers said.

Historically, microphones have been kept on during presidential debates between the major party candidates. That changed in 2020 when the Commission on Presidential Debates said before the second and final debate before the election that it would give the moderator the ability to mute the microphones.

Will Kennedy be included?

Although details of the debate were worked out between the Biden and Trump campaigns with CNN, independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. still has an outside chance of making the debate.

The rules allow for candidates who have garnered at least 15% in four national polls to be included. Candidates also have to appear on enough state ballots to theoretically win a majority (270 out of 538) of Electoral College votes to win office. CNN says that Kennedy has met the polling threshold in three national polls, but his biggest obstacle is ballot access. He currently is on enough ballots to theoretically win 89 Electoral College votes.

The Kennedy campaign says it has confirmed ballot access in eight states totalling 138 Electoral College votes. The campaign also said it has collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot in 14 states, which would give Kennedy a possible 304 Electoral College votes.

His campaign told Scripps News in May that Kennedy will have enough ballot access to win a majority of Electoral College votes by June 27.

No third-party candidate has joined the two major party candidates for a presidential debate since Ross Perot appeared with George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 1992.

Why is this debate different?

For the first time since 1984, leading presidential candidates will debate outside the auspices of the Commission on Presidential Debates. Both the Biden and Trump campaigns criticized the debate-organizing nonprofit for its format.

Instead, President Biden and Trump formalized agreements with CNN and ABC News allowing them to organize and simulcast two presidential debates. A vice presidential debate will also be organized by CBS News between Vice President Kamala Harris and Trump's yet-to-be-named running mate.