Rules set for Biden and Trump presidential debate in Atlanta

The first presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is less than two weeks away, and now we know some of the rules.

They include a limit intended to keep candidates from talking over each other. Microphones will be muted for the candidate who is not speaking.

The debate, to be held at CNN Studios in Atlanta, without a studio audience, is the first presidential debate ever hosted in Atlanta between the party nominees.

Here are the rules as announced by CNN and agreed to by both campaigns:

  • The debate will be 90 minutes with two commercial breaks. Campaign staff will not be allowed to interact with candidates during the breaks.
  • Both candidates will appear at a uniform podium. A coin flip will determine the position of the podiums.
  • Microphones will be muted during the debate except for the candidate whose turn it is to speak. Moderators, the network said “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion.”
  • No props or pre-written notes will be allowed on stage. Candidates will have a pen, a pad of paper and a bottle of water.
  • There will be no audience in the studio for the debate.
  • Hosts for the debate will be CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

How to watch

The debate will air at 9 p.m. June 27 on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, CNN Max and on It also will simulcast for other networks.

Biden and Trump will likely be the only candidates to meet the requirements for the debate. Eligible candidates must appear on a “sufficient number of state ballots” to reach the 270 electoral threshold to win the presidency and receive at least 15% in four major national polls.

So far, only Biden and Trump have met the threshold, CNN said, though it’s “not impossible,” Robert F. Kennedy could make the stage. Kennedy has received at least 15% in three qualifying polls and is on the ballot in six states, making him eligible for 89 Electoral College votes. Cornel West and Jill Stein are not expected to qualify for the debate.

The next debate is planned for Sept. 10 and will be hosted by ABC.