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What we know about how the CNN presidential debate will work

The first presidential debate of the 2024 general election season is set to take place in less than two weeks, and CNN, the network hosting the program, released on Saturday a set of rules for the event.

President Biden and former president Donald Trump both previously agreed to participate in the CNN debate, set for June 27 in Atlanta, and a Sept. 10 debate broadcast by ABC News. They are bypassing a decades-old tradition of three fall meetings organized by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. Other non-major party candidates, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., face lesser odds of qualifying for the CNN debate because of polling and ballot access requirements.

According to CNN, Trump and Biden agreed to accept the rules and format of the debate, which were outlined in letters the network sent to their campaigns in May. Here are the details:

During the debate, there will be two commercial breaks. The inclusion of corporate sponsors is a departure from Commission on Presidential Debates events.

Campaign staff may not interact with their candidate during the breaks, the network said, denying Biden and Trump the opportunity to huddle with their advisers for an hour and a half.

There will be no opening statements from candidates at the start of the debate, but they will be allowed a two-minute closing statement, CNN confirmed Saturday.

Ninety minutes of debate time will begin when the first question is answered. When asked a question, each candidate will have two minutes to respond, which will be followed by one-minute rebuttals and responses to the rebuttals. There will be another minute that can be used at the discretion of the moderators.

There will also be a visual reminder of response timing. Red lights visible to the candidates will flash when they have five seconds left to respond. The lights will turn solid red when their time has expired.

Trump and Biden have agreed to stand at uniform lecterns onstage. Their positions onstage will be determined by a coin flip, per CNN.

Candidates’ microphones will be muted throughout the program except for when it’s their turn to speak — an effort to limit interruptions observed in previous debates. CNN said debate moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion.”

Each candidate will be given a pen, a notepad and a bottle of water. No props or written notes will be allowed onstage.

CNN previously confirmed that there would be no studio audience present during the June debate, which has not been the case in many previous presidential debates.

At debates, audiences are often instructed to remain quiet, except at the beginning and end of the program. But that rule has not always been followed, leading to cheers and jeers interrupting the events.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post
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