Biden and Trump agree to debates. And then debate about more debates.

By Steven Shepard, Sam Stein, Jonathan Lemire, Alex Isenstadt | 05/15/2024 01:28 PM EDT

The Trump and Biden campaigns held brief exchanges about the debates in late April.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden debate.

Then-President Donald Trump (right) and then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2020. Pool photo by Jim Bourg

Having spent months avoiding direct engagement on when and where to debate, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden seemed to agree on a time and place in a matter of minutes Wednesday, setting up high-stakes showdowns in late June and mid-September.

The former president’s campaign announced that it accepted an invitation to debate the current president on CNN on June 27 and on ABC on Sept. 10. Biden, having previously said that he had “received and accepted an invitation” from CNN, then agreed to participate in ABC News’ forum, too.

The agreement does not ensure that either of the debates will happen. But it signals an interest in both camps to have a public sparring. Both Biden and Trump have said they would not participate in the Commission on Presidential Debates’ proposed schedule, placing in serious doubt whether any debates would take place at all.


During recent weeks, both the Trump and Biden campaigns held behind-the-scenes talks about debate planning, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions, who was granted anonymity to discuss them. The talks started at the March Gridiron dinner, when Trump adviser Susie Wiles and Biden campaign chair Jennifer O’Malley Dillon spoke, the person said. The Washington Post first reported on the existence of the backchannel talks. But a Biden campaign official downplayed that they were formal debate negotiations.