Biden calls for presidential debates starting June 27 — and Trump agrees

NEW YORK — President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for two high-profile presidential debates starting with a clash on CNN in the network’s Atlanta studios on June 27 — and former President Donald Trump quickly agreed.

“I’ll be there,” Trump told Fox News. “Look forward to being in beautiful Atlanta.”

Both candidates also accepted invitations for a second debate hosted by ABC News on Sept. 10.

The two rivals quickly agreed to debate after feisty Biden issued a challenge to square off against Trump next month in an early morning video posted on social media.

“(Trump’s) acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal. I’ll even do it twice,” Biden said.

The president even included a dig at Trump over his ongoing Manhattan criminal trial, which is dark on Wednesdays.

“Let’s pick a date,” Biden said. “I hear you’re free on Wednesdays.”

Trump, who has said he is also eager to debate, wasted no time responding positively to his rival’s challenge.

“I am ready and willing to debate (Biden),” he wrote on his social media site. “Let’s get ready to rumble.”

It remains to be seen if the two antagonistic campaigns can reach a final agreement on formats, although there seemed to be no major immediate disputes.

Biden’s campaign wants the debates to be one-on-one clashes with a moderator held in a television studio, without a live crowd and with the microphones only turned on for the candidate who is speaking. That tweak’s designed to prevent a repeat of the chaotic 2020 debates when Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden.

Trump initially countered by calling for them to be held in a “very large” venue, citing “excitement purposes.” His campaign also called for a total of four debates, including additional face-offs in July and August.

But Trump’s campaign accepted the offer from CNN for a clash to be held in the network’s Atlanta studio without a live audience.

There was no immediate word on the format for the second debate on ABC or who would moderate either debate.

Neither candidate mentioned the possibility of independent candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. being included.

“They are trying to exclude me from the debate because they are afraid I would win,” Kennedy said in a statement.

The campaigns have apparently both decided not to work with the Commission on Presidential Debates, the bipartisan group that has organized debates for the past several elections.

Neither Biden nor Trump even mentioned the commission, which had planned a slate of three presidential debates starting with a mid-September clash in San Marcos, Texas. The group also planned one vice-presidential debate.

Presidential debates have never been held before Labor Day, the traditional start of the fall campaign season, much less prior to the two parties’ summer conventions.

The Republican National Convention is set for mid-July in Milwaukee while Democrats will gather in August in Chicago.

The earlier debates would reflect the major changes to how and when Americans vote for president. Tens of millions of people are expected to cast ballots before Election Day on Nov. 5, either by mail or early in-person voting, with some states sending ballots to voters in early September.