Biden, Trump agree to June and September presidential debates


US President Joe Biden and Republican rival Donald Trump on Wednesday agreed to face off in two debates on June 27 and Sept. 10, setting up the highest stakes moments yet of the race for the White House.

"As you said: anywhere, any time, any place," Biden said on social media.

Trump called Biden "the worst debater" he has ever faced. "I am Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times in June and September," he posted on social media.

CNN, a division of Warner Bros Discovery, said the first debate would be held in their Atlanta studio with no audience, and would be moderated by anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Georgia is one of November's most closely contested states.

The candidates also accepted an invitation from ABC, which will host a second debate on Sept. 10. A separate vice presidential debate has been proposed for July, after the Republican National Convention.

Key differences between the two sides remained on the terms of engagement. Biden said he would participate in those two debates under strict rules to reduce interruptions, while Trump called for more than two - and a very large venue "for excitement purposes."

Independent US presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr claimed in a new post on X that he will meet the criteria to participate in the CNN debate before the June 20 deadline. It remained unclear if he will qualify.

CNN requires its debate candidates to appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold and receive at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed only 13 percent of Americans would vote for Kennedy.

Earlier in the day Kennedy said Biden and Trump " are trying to exclude me from their debate because they are afraid I would win."

Debates, which will draw a US live television audience in the tens of millions, are fraught with risks for both candidates, who face a tight race and low enthusiasm from voters.

Trump aides see Biden as prone to verbal slip-ups that could amplify voter concerns about the 81-year-old president's age. Trump will be 78 by the time the first debate is held.

"Both candidates will be under greater scrutiny than they have ever been due to their age," Alan Schroeder, a professor emeritus at Northeastern University who wrote the book "Presidential Debates: Risky Business on the Campaign Trial." He called the debate "one of the only moments in which the candidates don't have complete control."

The first debate would take place after the June 15 conclusion of the Group of Seven summit in Italy and Trump's criminal trial in New York.

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