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Trump and Biden's first presidential debate of 2024 is tonight. Here's what to know.

Recap of Biden and Trump's first 2024 debate
Highlights and analysis of Biden and Trump's first presidential debate of 2024 24:37

President Biden and former President Donald Trump will participate in the first presidential debate of the 2024 election on Thursday, June 27, at 9 p.m. ET. 

The debate, hosted by CNN, will be the first time either candidate has been on a debate stage since 2020. The debate will also be simulcast on other networks, including CBS and CBS News 24/7 streaming.

Trump will get the final word of the night, while Mr. Biden got to choose whether he wanted the podium on the right or left side. Their microphones will be muted except when it's their turn to speak. 

Here are the details: 

Who is — and isn't — participating in the first presidential debate?

The debate will feature just the two presumptive party nominees — President Biden and former President Donald Trump. 

All non-major party candidates, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., failed to qualify for the debate stage by the network's June 20 deadline. Kennedy failed to meet the ballot access and polling requirements set by CNN. 

Candidates needed to earn at least 15% support in four approved national polls and be on the ballot in enough states to be able to win 270 votes in the Electoral College — the threshold to win the presidency. 

The Biden and Trump campaigns have a shared interest in keeping Kennedy off the debate stage as the independent candidate seeks to pull support from their voters and could end up having an effect in battleground states. Kennedy's campaign said Tuesday it would host its own "debate" at the same time as the Biden-Trump showdown that will be streamed online. 

Who is moderating the first 2024 presidential debate?

CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash are moderating. The network said the moderators "will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion." 

Where is the first presidential debate taking place?

Mr. Biden and Trump will debate in CNN's Atlanta studios. 

The network said there will be no studio audience "to ensure candidates may maximize the time allotted in the debate."

What are the rules for the debate?

Thursday's debate is the first that is not being run by the Commission on Presidential Debates, so there are a few modifications from the normal debate rules. For example, the debate is set to run 90 minutes, but there will be two commercial breaks, a first. Campaign staff are not allowed to interact with the candidate during that time. There will be no in-studio audience.

According to CNN, both candidates have agreed to appear at uniform lecterns, and their lectern positions were determined by a coin toss. Mr. Biden won the coin toss and will appear to the right of TV viewers' screens.

In another break from prior debates, there will be no opening statements and instead each candidate will make a closing statement. The candidate who won the coin toss was allowed to choose either the lectern position or the order of the closing statement, and the Biden campaign chose the lectern position.

Trump's campaign then chose for the former president to deliver the last closing statement, which means Mr. Biden will go first at the conclusion of the debate.

Microphones will be muted throughout the debate except for the candidate whose turn it is to speak. This rule is a departure from the 2020 debate, when Trump interrupted Mr. Biden frequently, leading to one of the most memorable moments of that debate, when Mr. Biden said, "Will you shut up, man?" 

As with prior debates, candidates will be allowed to have a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water.

What topics are on the table for the first presidential debate?

CNN has not shared what topics will be covered.

A few possible topics are: border security and immigration, which are both topics Trump has hammered the president on; abortion rights an issue that has galvanized Democrats since the Supreme Court overturned Roe. v. Wade; Trump's felony conviction in a case related to a "hush money" payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election; the conviction of the president's son, Hunter Biden, for his purchase and possession of a gun while he was addicted to crack cocaine; the economy; and voter concerns about the age and health of both men. 

How to watch the presidential debate with cable

The debate will air on CNN, but the network is also allowing other broadcast and cable news networks to simulcast it. CBS will be among the networks simulcasting it. 

Where to stream the presidential debate

Those without a cable subscription can watch it online at or streaming on CBS News 24/7 and, where it will be simulcast. 

How long will the debate last?

The event will last 90 minutes and include two commercial breaks. 

Campaign staff are not allowed to interact with the candidates during the breaks, the network said, preventing the president and former president from receiving feedback from aides during the hour-and-a-half debate. 

When will the next 2024 debates take place?

Mr. Biden and Trump have agreed to one more debate, which will be hosted by ABC News on Sept. 10. 

Plans for the two events came together quickly after the Biden campaign last month proposed two debates to be hosted by news organizations. The Trump campaign accepted, but pushed for more than the two events. 

They are bypassing a longtime tradition of three meetings organized by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which has overseen presidential debates since 1988. The commission's three debates were scheduled to take place in September and October at universities in Texas, Virginia and Utah.

A vice presidential debate could take place either July 23 or Aug. 13. 

The Biden campaign accepted CBS News' invitation to participate in the debate, saying those dates work for Vice President Kamala Harris' schedule. Trump has yet to name a running mate, but the invite was also extended to his campaign. 

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