Biden, Trump set ground rules for first presidential debate

WASHINGTON: United States (US) President Joe Biden and Donald Trump will face off in a 90-minute debate with mutable microphones, broadcaster CNN said on Saturday, as it laid ground rules for the first in-person clash between the pair ahead of November’s election.

The rules for the June 27 debate, which will have two hosts and no studio audience, were agreed by the Biden and Trump campaigns, according to CNN.

“Both candidates agreed to appear at a uniform podium, and their podium positions will be determined by a coin flip,” the channel said, adding that microphones “will be muted throughout the debate except for the candidate whose turn it is to speak.”

No props or notes will be allowed on stage, with candidates only given a pen, pad of paper, and a bottle of water, CNN said.

It said the debate, hosted in Atlanta, Georgia, will last 90 minutes with two commercial breaks – during which campaign staff cannot interact with their candidate.

“Some aspects of the debate – including the absence of a studio audience – will be a departure from previous debates,” CNN said.

But, the network said, moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash – both star news anchors for CNN – “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion.”

Biden and Trump agreed in May to two televised election debates, with the second hosted by channel ABC on September 10.

The last debates between the two men in 2020 were tension-filled affairs, with Biden at one point snapping, “Will you shut up, man?” as Trump repeatedly talked over him.

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