CNN, the network hosting the first presidential debate of the 2024 cycle, announced the rules and parameters for the event, scheduled for June 27 in Atlanta. These guidelines have been agreed upon by both President Joe Biden‘s and former President Donald Trump‘s campaigns. CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will host and moderate the debate.

Both candidates have already accepted CNN’s invitation and agreed to abide by the rules and format outlined in letters sent to their campaigns by the network in May.

Additionally, Trump and Biden have committed to a Sept. 10 debate broadcast by ABC News, breaking from the tradition of participating in three fall debates organized by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.

CNN has announced that the 90-minute debate will include two commercial breaks, during which campaign staff are barred from interacting with their candidates. Moreover, the participation of corporate sponsors during these breaks represents a departure from the standard practice of Commission on Presidential Debates events.

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Furthermore, candidates will forego opening statements at the start of the debate but will be granted a two-minute closing statement. The 90-minute session begins when the first question is answered, allowing each candidate two minutes to respond, followed by one-minute rebuttals and responses to those rebuttals. An additional minute may be used at the discretion of the moderators.

Candidates will also receive a visual cue for response timing. Visible red lights will flash when they have five seconds remaining and will turn solid red after their allotted time has expired.

Both candidates have agreed to stand at uniform podiums, with their positions determined by a coin flip toss.

To minimize interruptions as seen in past debates, microphones will be muted throughout the event, except for when it’s each candidate’s turn to speak.

According to the network, the moderators stated that they “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion.”

Props or pre-written notes are prohibited on stage, however, each candidate will be provided with a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water during the debate.

CNN confirmed that there will be no studio audience present during the June debate, marking a departure from previous presidential debates. This decision was made following instances of audiences not consistently adhering to the rules during debates, resulting in interruptions from cheers and jeers.

To qualify for CNN’s debate, candidates must meet the eligibility criteria specified in Article II, Section I, of the U.S. Constitution to serve as president. Additionally, candidates are required to submit a formal statement of candidacy to the Federal Election Commission.

Candidates must also meet two additional criteria: appearing on a significant number of state ballots, reaching the 270 electoral vote threshold required to win the presidency, and attaining a minimum of 15% support in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters that adhere to CNN’s reporting standards.

While Biden and Trump have fulfilled all four requirements, it is unlikely that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein, who are running on minor party tickets, will satisfy the last two criteria.

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