HomePoliticsBiden Offers to Debate Trump Twice, Says: 'Make My Day, Friend'

Biden Offers to Debate Trump Twice, Says: ‘Make My Day, Friend’

By Nandita Bose and Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. president Joe Biden said Wednesday he was willing to debate the Republican rival Donald Trump twice before the Nov. 5 elections, first laying out his terms for his nomination against the former president on national television.

Biden called on his opponent to join him for two televised presidential debates in June and September, an offer Trump accepted via a post on his Truth Social platform. Trump recommended more than two debates — and a very large venue “for excitement purposes.”

The Democratic president’s proposal, his campaign’s first formal offer, ended the decades-old tradition of three fall debates and called for direct negotiations between the Trump and Biden campaigns over the rules, network hosts and moderators. He also proposed a separate vice-presidential debate in July, after the Republican National Convention.

Biden’s move shows he is willing to take some calculated risks to boost his poll numbers in a race where he is trailing Trump in key battleground states as voters remain concerned about his age and his handling of the economy.

“Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020. He hasn’t appeared at a debate since,” Biden said in a video message on X. “Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Make my day, buddy, I’ll even do it twice.”

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Trump responded to Biden by calling him “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 wrote.

“I would highly recommend more than two debates and, for excitement purposes, a very large room, although Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds — that’s only because he doesn’t get them,” Trump added.

Trump, who refused to debate his rivals in the Republican primaries, has in recent weeks challenged Biden to a one-on-one matchup with him, offering to meet with the president “anytime, anywhere, anytime” incumbent Democrat to debate.

In the video, Biden also lashed out at Trump’s legal troubles, with an oblique reference to the weekly Wednesday breaks in Trump’s hush money trial in New York.

“So let’s pick the dates, Donald. I heard you’re off on Wednesday,” Biden said.

Biden’s team also requested that only broadcast networks that hosted Republican primaries in 2016 and Democratic Party primary debates in 2020 would be eligible this year. Only four networks hosted debates for both parties during those election cycles: CNN, Telemundo, CBS News and ABC News.

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Biden said he would not participate in the traditional televised showdowns organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, rejecting the nonpartisan organization that has run presidential debates since 1988.

Trump has also previously expressed interest in bypassing the committee, and the Republican National Committee announced in 2022 that the party would abandon the committee’s debate system altogether.

In a letter explaining the decision, Biden’s campaign chairwoman, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, cited the committee’s previous struggles to prevent candidates from violating debate rules. She informed the committee that Biden will not participate in the group’s three general election debates, scheduled for September 16, October 1 and October 9.

“The debates should be conducted for the benefit of American voters watching on television and at home – not as entertainment for an in-person audience of raucous or disruptive partisans and donors who consume valuable debate time with noisy displays of approval or derision. ,” she said.

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The Biden campaign wants the debates to start much earlier than the committee’s proposed dates so voters can see the two candidates side by side before early voting begins in September. The first debate would take place after the conclusion of the Group of Seven summit on June 15 in Italy and the conclusion of the criminal trial against Trump in New York.

The campaign also wants it to be just the two candidates and the moderator – without an in-person audience and the participation of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or other independent or third party candidates.

Kennedy and other third parties would not be eligible under the commission’s rules, given their current rankings in polls and access to ballots.

Asked about a preference for format or topics, Biden-Harris campaign spokesman Michael Tyler said some details still needed to be worked out, including network moderators.

“We want to make sure we’re having a conversation that is structured around the issues that the American people care about,” he said.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Susan Heavey, Gareth Jones and Jonathan Oatis)

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