Biden v. Trump: CNN Presidential Debate could jolt and alter the 2024 race

Jun 27, 2024, 2:02 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2024, 1:38 am

Donald Trump, left, and Joe Biden exchange points during a presidential debate Sept. 29, 2020, at C...

Donald Trump, left, and Joe Biden exchange points during a presidential debate Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland. (Pool file photo: Morry Gash via AP)

(Pool file photo: Morry Gash via AP)

Those who tune in to the CNN Presidential Debate Thursday evening shouldn’t expect it to be as fierce as the previous battles between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

For those of a certain age, think of the first-ever televised debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960.

Tune in at 6 p.m.: The CNN Presidential Debate will be simulcast live on KIRO Newsradio

First, there won’t be any outbursts from the audience because there won’t be one. CNN said that there’s no room in their Atlanta studios. Debates with audiences are usually held at concert or event centers. This prevents either candidate from “stacking the crowd.”

In the past, viewers may have decided who “won” the debate by the number of cheers or boos a candidate received. In fact, a news intern or an associate producer have actually added up the numbers.

Another twist is that, in theory, the candidates will not be able to interrupt each other. Their microphones will be turned off when they finish with their allocated time. The candidate who is not speaking will be difficult to understand because his microphone will be off, and his audio will only be picked up by his opponent’s open mic. This could reduce the amount of drama. But it could also add drama, if a lot is said after the microphones get shut off.

The other question is whether the candidate will have to stay behind their podium, which means that Trump cannot perform the panned walkaround move that he pulled off while debating Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Charlie Harger commentary: It’s time to try something different regarding presidential debates

The Trump campaign has already said that the deck is stacked against him since the moderators, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, are both from what some believe is the left-learning CNN. It could end up the other way around, however, with the moderators trying to prove they are not the mouthpieces of President Joe Biden.

Most of the networks will be carrying CNN’s feed and no one but still photographers will be let in the studios.

The concept is that this debate will be driven by the candidates’ answers and the issues they discuss, but that hasn’t seemed to matter much in recent years.

There is also the possibility the moderators’ questions will make headlines. Remember the famous Bernard Shaw question to Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis when he ran against George H.W. Bush in 1988?

“Governor, if (your wife), Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” Shaw asked during that event.

Most Americans say they will follow the debate in some form

Two YouGov polls, one conducted in late 2023 and another at the beginning of this year, showed 60% of voters had already made up their minds about who they are going to vote for. But this debate may make a difference to those who haven’t made that decision and they will probably decide who our next president is.

Most U.S. adults plan to watch some element of Thursday’s debate and many think the event will be important for the campaigns of both Biden and Trump, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Both men remain broadly unpopular as they prepare to face off for the first time since 2020, although Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, maintains a modest enthusiasm advantage with his base compared to Biden, the Democratic incumbent.

About six in 10 U.S. adults say they are “extremely” or “very” likely to watch the debate live or in clips, or read about or listen to commentary about the performance of the candidates in the news or social media.

In addition to the debate airing on KIRO Newsradio and AM 770 KTTH, CNN is carrying the debate live on its broadcast network, as well as on CNN International, CNN en Español and CNN Max. Viewers can also stream it without a log in on CNN’s website. Several TV networks have also agreed to carry the event live.

Let’s see how many stay after the first 10 minutes, especially if it turns out to be civil and informative. That will say more about us than anything.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Bill Kaczaraba is a content editor at MyNorthwest. He was the executive producer of CNN’s “Inside Politics” and worked for the network’s political unit. You can read his stories here. Follow Bill on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here


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Biden v. Trump: CNN Presidential Debate could jolt and alter the 2024 race