President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, are going toe-to-toe in two 2024 presidential debates. The first debate will be held in June, the second in September, both hosted by cable news networks.

Pretty much everything about the 2024 debates is unusual. For starters, they’re happening much earlier in the election cycle than they usually do, and the first debate will not have a live audience.

Here’s everything you need to know about the first presidential debate, including when and how to watch it.

How did the first debate come about?

President Biden’s campaign released a video on May 15 challenging Trump to debate: “Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020. Since then he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again,” Biden said in the video. “Well, make my day, pal. I’ll even do it twice. So let’s pick the dates, Donald. I hear you’re free on Wednesdays.” (That last remark is a barb at Trump’s busy schedule of court dates for his various criminal cases; Trump has since been convicted on felony charges for falsifying business records.)

Within hours, Trump’s campaign accepted the challenge and both candidates set the terms for debate.

This is not how things usually go. The nonprofit, nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has overseen and sponsored the debate process for three decades. Typically, the commission sets the date and location for three separate presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. These are usually held in the fall, during the lead-up to the general election in November.

But Biden reportedly declined to participate in the CPD’s scheduled fall debates, instead proposing an initial face-off for June, before either candidate has even formally accepted their party’s nomination. (The nominations will take place at the Republican National Convention, in July, and the Democratic National Convention, in August.)

When and where will the first debate be held?

CNN will host the first debate between President Biden and former president Trump on June 27 at 9 p.m. ET, per CNN’s press room. The event will take place in CNN’s Atlanta studios, as Georgia is a critical battleground state.

(The second presidential debate will be hosted by ABC and is scheduled to take place on September 10.)

How can I watch the first presidential debate?

The first debate will air live on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, and CNN Max. If you don’t have cable or a cable login account, you can stream the debate live at You can also watch the debate live on other broadcast and cable news networks in the US.

(September’s debate will air live on ABC, its 24/7 streaming network ABC News Live, Hulu, and other broadcast and streaming channels and news networks in the US.)

How will the first debate be set up?

According to CNN, the June debate will be moderated by CNN anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Bash is CNN’s chief political correspondent and anchor of Inside Politics, a weekday political talk show. Tapper is a leading anchor for CNN, chief Washington correspondent, and host of the news show The Lead With Jake Tapper. Both journalists have worked together extensively, not just as moderators, but as cohosts of State of the Union, a Sunday morning program.

What’s most interesting, however, is that the first debate will not include a live audience. CNN says this will “ensure candidates may maximize the time allotted in the debate.”

Candidates often play toward the audience, adjusting talking points based on the crowd’s reaction. Though a live audience has been a historic (and historically loud) feature of such debates, Biden’s team did not want Trump’s enthusiastic supporters to be able to control the energy of these events, according to a Politico report.

BBC’s North America correspondent also noted that the absence of a live audience means Biden can’t be interrupted by pro-Palestine protesters. In May, several college students walked out or turned their back during the president’s graduation speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta, the same city where the June debate will take place. The students were demonstrating against Biden’s backing for Israel and the decision to continue providing the country with military aid for the war in Gaza.

What are the qualifications for the debates?

To participate in either debate, candidates must meet certain requirements. First, they must meet the constitutional requirements for presidential eligibility and register their candidacy with the Federal Election Commision.

Second, CNN requires that candidates must receive at least 15% of votes in four national polls of registered or likely voters. Additionally, each candidate must have their name on the ballot in enough states to win at least 270 electoral votes, which represents the threshold number to win the presidency prior to the eligibility deadline.

Finally, all candidates must agree to accept debate rules and the format.

With these requirements in place, it’s unlikely that independents Robert Kennedy Jr., Cornel West, or any other Republican candidates will qualify to join.

What issues will likely be discussed?

Specific topics have not yet been announced, but it’s likely that both candidates will be asked about the issues that have defined the 2024 race so far. And, as in most presidential elections, the economy is a chief concern for voters. According to a report from the Pew Research Center, almost three-quarters of Americans view strengthening the economy as a top policy priority.

There are ongoing concerns about the age of both candidates and their ability to serve another four years in office. Biden is 81 and, if elected, would be 86 by the end of his second term. Trump is 77, which would make him the second-oldest president in office. Polls indicate that the majority of Americans think both candidates are too old to serve in the White House.

It’s also probable that Trump will be asked about his recent conviction and the criminal charges against him. These charges stem from four separate indictments related to Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, the January 6 insurrection, election interference, falsifying records, hush money and payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, and the mishandling and withholding of classified documents. Trump is the only president in US history to be convicted of felonies, so both candidates will want to address the charges — and what they mean for the country — head on.

Finally, the war in Gaza is a consideration for young voters, many of whom are critical of Biden’s support for Israel. According to a Pew Research poll, 45% of adults under 30 oppose sending military aid to Israel, and 36% think Biden overly favors Israel.

With two candidates who don’t represent their generation’s values, some Gen Z voters are considering opting out of the election altogether. The June debate will mark a chance for Biden to address the concerns of young people, many of whom helped secure his victory in 2020.

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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue

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