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The Biden-Trump CNN presidential debate tonight has some mandatory rules, let’s discuss them

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will face off in the first debate of the 2024 general election tonight in Atlanta, Georgia.

The New York Times mentions that some of the rules for the event, such as being allowed to take notes but not allowed to bring prepared ones, are typical. Others, however, are not standard for election years

Starting at 9 p.m., the debate will have its normal runtime of one-and-a-half hours, including two commercial breaks, something past general election debates, according to The New York Times, didn’t have.

Biden and Trump will not have permission to talk to any aides during the breaks. Rather, they’ll serve as breaks before continuing the debate.

A second change noted by The New York Times is how, rather than being in front of a live audience, the debate will be recorded in a CNN studio, as requested by Biden’s campaign. It’s suspected that the change request comes down to Trump feeding off the energy of crowds, especially that of his fans.

How the candidates will be positioned and who will give their closing statement first were determined by coin tosses. Biden, winning the first coin toss, chose to be on the right side of the viewing screen. The results of the second coin toss placed Biden’s closing statement first and Trump’s second. There will be no opening statement.

Candidates will be given two minutes to answer questions and one minute for rebuttals. The New York Times mentions that the moderators, CNN hosts Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, can grant extra time if they choose to.

In addition to the time limits, candidates’ microphones will be muted when their speaking time is up. This, similar to the “no audience” request, was asked for by Biden’s campaign. This comes down to Trump being known for talking over and interrupting his opponents.

Moderators cutting off a candidate’s microphone if they are going over the time limit, says The New York Times, isn’t something unknown to debates. Muting them completely, however, doesn’t happen often. The last time such an action was seen was during the 15-minute initial statements in the final 2020 debate. Hopefully, these new rules will lead to a less chaotic debate than what 2020 offered.


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