CNN outlines additional debate rules

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CNN has released additional details on the parameters agreed upon by the Donald Trump and President Joe Biden campaigns for its June 27, 2024, debate.

The debate will run for 90 minutes and include two commercial breaks. Campaign staff cannot interact with candidates during the breaks.

Candidates will stand at a “uniform” podium, with the positions determined by coin flip. 

Microphones will be muted except when it is a candidate’s turn to speak. Moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will be permitted to “use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion,” according to the network.

No props or pre-written notes will be allowed on the stage, but there will be a pen, pad of paper and a bottle of water provided at each position.

As previously announced, there will be no studio audience. 

In addition to the constitutional requirements for serving as U.S. president and filing a formal statement of candidacy, candidates also must appear on a sufficient number of state ballots to reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency and receive at least 15% in four separate national polls of registered or likely voters that meet CNN’s standards, according to the network.

Both Biden and Trump meet all of those requirements so will, short of any last-minute issues or drastic changes in polling, appear in the debate. 

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Non-major party candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cornel West and Jill Stein are less likely to meet all of the requirements, though CNN noted that Kennedy could meet the qualifications by the date of the debate.

CNN is allowing other networks to air a simulcast of its live feed, though it’s not clear how many will take them up in the offer.

Sources have told the L.A. Times that CNN is requiring networks opting to carry its feed keep its on-screen bug intact. 

Other rules prohibit other networks for using squeeze-backs or split screens to insert their own commentary or information during the debate. 

Networks are free to use the two scheduled commercial breaks to air their own ads or promos, but cannot use that time to insert their own commentary, analysis or coverage. Each break will run for 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

Other networks are, however, permitted to air their own commentary before and after the debate, just not during the debate itself. 

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