Biden campaign picks right-side podium for CNN debate, Trump will have the last word

Biden campaign picks right-side podium for CNN debate, Trump will have the last word
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
June 22nd, 2024 | ABC News Radio

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Thursday won the coin toss to secure a podium position on the right side of the stage during the CNN debate next week, but by doing so gave Donald Trump the final closing statement of the 90-minute matchup.

According to CNN, the coin landed on tails — the side chosen by the Biden campaign. The team then got to choose between podium placement or the order of closing arguments, picking to have Biden be on the right side of television and other screens but deliver his closing statement first.

Trump’s podium will be on the left side, and he will have the last word by delivering his closing statement after Biden.

The 90-minute CNN debate, starting at 9 p.m. ET, will take place on June 27 in Atlanta. It is the first of two debates between Biden and Trump, the second taking place on Sept. 10 and hosted by ABC News.

The CNN debate is being simulcast on ABC and ABC News Live with pre-coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET on the network and 7 p.m ET on ABCNL.

Earlier this week, other rules were announced by CNN such as muting the candidates’ microphone unless it is their turn to speak and allowing no props, only pen, paper and a bottle of water.

There will be no opening statements, two commercial breaks and no studio audience.

Biden and Trump will be given two minutes to answer questions posed by moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, followed by one minute each to respond and rebut. There will be a red light flashing to indicate to candidates they have five seconds remaining of their allotted time. When their time is over, the light will turn solid red.

With exactly a week to go until the debate, both campaigns are beginning to prepare.

President Biden is huddling at Camp David with former chief of staff Ron Klain and other longtime advisers and aides.

Toward the end of his debate prep, Biden will take part in a 90-minute mock debate where he’s standing the whole time, according to Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s campaign manager, who’s been in close contact with Biden’s team.

“You got to get used to doing that, and we made Obama do that, too,” Messina told ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Selina Wang. “That’s another advantage for Trump, because he does stand up at those lecterns and gets his two- or three-hour rambling monologues at his rallies.”

As to why Biden chose the right-side podium after winning the coin flip, Messina said Biden just “likes” that side and it’s a “personal preference.”

Meanwhile, Trump is holding policy meetings with advisers and congressional allies on issues like immigration, the economy and democracy. He’ll also campaign in Philadelphia over the weekend and attend fundraisers next week.

Biden and Trump will be the only candidates on stage after the qualification window closed at midnight, CNN said.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., running as an independent, fell short of meeting the network’s polling and ballot access requirements. He called his exclusion from the stage “undemocratic, un-American, and cowardly.”

ABC News’ Isabella Murray and Will McDuffie contributed to this report.

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