Atlanta

Trump vs. Biden: Atlanta announced as location for first presidential debate of 2024 campaign

ATLANTA — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will debate right here in Atlanta. It will be the first debate of the 2024 presidential campaign, and it will be held at the CNN Atlanta studios on June 27.

CNN said no audience would be present and the moderators of the debate would be announced at a later date.

On social media, Biden said he accepted the invitation and put the ball in Trump’s court.

“Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” Biden wrote.

It didn’t take long for Trump to respond on Truth Social, saying:

“It is my great honor to accept the CNN Debate against Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump wrote.

Both said they have also accepted invitations to the ABC News debate scheduled for September.

Political experts told Channel 2 Action News that Georgia will be a key player again in November.

“Georgia is just that important. It’s a must-win state, I think, for both Trump and Biden. I can’t imagine winning the presidency this year without carrying Georgia, it’s that important,” Kennesaw State University political professor Kerwin Swint said.

Both Trump and Biden have been to the state several times already this year and will likely be back several more times before the election is over.

Biden won the state of Georgia in the 2020, election over Trump. It was the first time a Democrat took the state since Bill Clinton was elected in 1992.

What transpired after that election led to Trump and several of his allies being indicted on charges that they conspired to overturn the election here in Georgia, which will likely be a hot topic in the upcoming debate.

Trump has been pushing for more debates and earlier debates, arguing voters should be able to see the two men face off well before early voting begins in September. He has repeatedly said he will debate Biden “anytime, anywhere, any place,” even proposing the two men face off outside the Manhattan courthouse where he is currently on criminal trial in a hush-money case. He also has been taunting Biden with an empty lectern at some of his rallies.

Trump’s campaign on Wednesday challenged the Biden campaign to agree to at least two other debates between the two candidates, beside the June and September dates. The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden’s campaign has long held a grudge against the nonpartisan commission for failing to evenly apply its rules during the 2020 Biden-Trump matchups — most notably when it didn’t enforce its COVID-19 testing rules on Trump and his entourage.

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Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon on Wednesday sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates to say that Biden’s campaign objected to the fall dates selected by the commission, which come after some Americans begin to vote, repeating a complaint also voiced by the Trump campaign. She also voiced frustrations over the rule violations and the commission’s insistence on holding the debates before a live audience.

“The debates should be conducted for the benefit of the American voters, watching on television and at home — not as entertainment for an in-person audience with raucous or disruptive partisans and donors,” she said. “As was the case with the original televised debates in 1960, a television studio with just the candidates and moderators is a better, more cost-efficient way to proceed: focused solely on the interests of voters.”

There was little love lost for the commission as well from Trump, who objected to technical issues at his first debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and was upset after a debate with Biden was canceled in 2020 after the Republican came down with COVID-19. The Republican National Committee had already promised not to work with the commission on the 2024 contests.

The Trump campaign issued a statement on May 1 that objected to the scheduled debates by the commission, saying that the schedule “begins AFTER early voting” and that “this is unacceptable” because voters deserve to hear from the candidates before ballots are cast.

The commission said in a Wednesday statement that “the American public deserves substantive debates from the leading candidates for president and vice president,” adding that its mission is “to ensure that such debates reliably take place and reach the widest television, radio and streaming audience.”

The Biden campaign also proposed that the Biden-Trump debates this year be hosted by “any broadcast organization that hosted a Republican Primary debate in 2016 in which Donald Trump participated, and a Democratic primary debate in 2020 in which President Biden participated — so neither campaign can assert that the sponsoring organization is obviously unacceptable: if both candidates have previously debated on their airwaves, then neither could object to such venue.”

Those criteria would eliminate Fox News, which did not host a Democratic primary debate in 2020, and potentially NBC News, which did not host a GOP one in 2016 — though its corporate affiliates CNBC and Telemundo were co-hosts of one debate each that year.

In teeing up the debates, both Biden and Trump traded barbs on social media — each claiming victory the last time they faced off in 2020.

“Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020, since then, he hasn’t shown up for a debate,′ Biden said in a post on X, the site formerly known as Twitter. “Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal.”

Trump, for his part, said Biden was the “WORST debater I have ever faced - He can’t put two sentences together!”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.