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2024 General Election Debates Announced...But Will Anyone Show Up?

Spencer Brown/Townhall

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced the dates and locations for its 2024 presidential debates on Monday that will lead up to November's general election which is now less than one year away — but there's no guarantee the GOP nominee will participate after Republicans severed ties following the 2020 debates. 


CPD's first presidential debate is scheduled for Monday, September 16 at Texas State University in San Marcos followed by debates at Virginia State University in Petersburg on Tuesday, October 1 and at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, October 9. 

One vice presidential debate has been scheduled for Wednesday, September 25 at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. All four forums for the 2024 general election will be 90 minutes long "without commercial interruption" and each will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET, according to CPD's announcement. 

According to CPD co-chairs Frank Fahrenkopf and Antonia Hernández, "The United States’ general election debates, watched live worldwide, are a model for many other countries: the opportunity to hear and see leading candidates address serious issues in a fair and neutral setting. This tradition remains unbroken since 1976," CPD's leaders underscored.

In 2024, however, that tradition is imperiled by what Republicans — both those leading the RNC and the party's voters around the country — say are biased questions and favoritism from moderators and CPD organizers. 

As Townhall reported back in April 2022, the Republican National Committee "voted unanimously to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates, a supposedly nonpartisan group that organizes presidential and vice presidential debates before general elections."


Here's what RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said following the vote to withdraw from CPD in response to the way the 2020 debates were handled:

Debates are an important part of the democratic process, and the RNC is committed to free and fair debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates is biased and has refused to enact simple and commonsense reforms to help ensure fair debates including hosting debates before voting begins and selecting moderators who have never worked for candidates on the debate stage.

The vote to formally withdraw from CPD came after McDaniel and the RNC put CPD on notice at the beginning of 2022, explaining:

The RNC has a duty to ensure that its future presidential nominees have the opportunity to debate their opponents on a level playing field. So long as the CPD appears intent on stonewalling the meaningful reforms necessary to restore its credibility with the Republican Party as a fair and nonpartisan actor, the RNC will take every step to ensure that future Republican presidential nominees are given that opportunity elsewhere. Accordingly, the RNC will initiate the process of amending the Rules of the Republican Party at our upcoming Winter Meeting to prohibit future Republican nominees from participating in CPD-sponsored debates.


While the RNC has made its position on CPD clear, former President-turned-2024 frontrunner Donald Trump has said that he wants to face off against Biden despite the way the 2020 debates played out. Neither Trump nor Biden's campaign has yet committed to participate in debates, raising the question: will any candidates participate in 2024 general election debates?

Earlier this summer, Guy pondered that question and what would happen if it ends up being Team Biden, and not just the RNC or Trump, that refuses to participate in debates next year following the parties' conventions:

Just as Trump has determined that debating is not in his political interest at this stage of the cycle, Team Biden very well reach the same conclusion about general election debates.  They'd frame a refusal to 'dignify' Trump in such a setting as a 'defense of democracy,' or whatever.  If that happens, it's easy to imagine the Trump campaign crying foul, inevitably inviting a blizzard of reminders that Trump did the same thing during the primaries.  But this is different, they'd retort, and they'd have some valid points.  Yet it's more than plausible that Trump declining to participate in debates now could lower the political bar for Biden to follow suit and duck out of them next fall.  That move could conceivably backfire, of course, especially if voters see it as arrogant, or a tacit admission that Biden is simply not up to the mental task (I suspect ornery, defensive Joe would like to debate, for this reason).  But if Biden's team can convince him that turning down debates with Trump, "on principle," maximizes their chances of winning an autopilot, Basement 2.0 campaign, it's a real possibility.


Time will tell, but the CPD seems to be operating in a different political era of sorts and putting the debate cart ahead of the horse in assuming the existence of the usual general election debates is a foregone conclusion when there are more than a few obstacles between Monday's announcement and next fall's planned debates. 

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