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U Presidential Debate Officially Canceled

The Commission on Presidential Debates has canceled all debates that were supposed to be held this fall.
President+Donald+Trump+and+President+Joe+Biden+face+off+in+Cleveland%2C+OH+on+Sept.+29%2C+2020.
President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden face off in Cleveland, OH on Sept. 29, 2020.

 

The Commission on Presidential Debates officially announced the cancellation of all 2024 debates on Monday. The CPD had three presidential and one vice-presidential debate scheduled for 2024. The third and final presidential debate was scheduled to take place at the University of Utah on Oct. 9. 

The cancellation of these four debates comes after President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump agreed to schedule their own debates, skirting the CPD. The first debate will take place Thursday night and the second on Sept. 10. 

The Biden-Harris campaign informed the CPD that Biden would not be participating in the CPD’s debates in a letter from May 15, 2024. The letter outlined several grievances with the CPD’s debate format. 

“The Commission’s schedule has debates that begin after the American people have a chance to cast their vote early, and doesn’t conclude until after tens of millions of Americans will have already voted.” Reads the letter, explaining one of three reasons the Biden-Harris campaign is choosing not to participate in these debates. “The Commission’s failure, yet again, to schedule debates that will be meaningful to all voters — not just those who cast their ballots late in the fall or on Election Day — underscores the serious limitations of its outdated approach.”

The letter also criticized the Commission’s allowance of large audiences at their debates and the “spectacles” that result because of them. It also pointed to the CPD’s frequent failure to enforce debate rules during the 2020 presidential debates. 

“We are advising you now of this decision, months in advance of the dates you announced you are planning for, to enable you to avoid incurring further production, and other, expenses on the assumption that the Democratic nominee, President Biden, will participate.” The letter reads. “For the reasons stated above, he will not.”

In the CPD’s announcement of the cancellation, they reference this letter as reason for the decision. 

“It is unfair to ask the four campuses to continue to prepare for their debates, as they have been doing since their November, 2023 selection,” CPD co-chairs Antonia Hernández and Frank Fahrenkopf said. “We are grateful to the sites, and we are sorry to come to this decision. We are dismayed that students of the four campuses will not have the opportunity to participate in these historic voter education forums.”

Aside from the U, Texas State University and Virginia State University were also chosen to host presidential debates on Sept. 16 and Oct. 1, respectively. Lafayette College was to host the vice presidential debate on Sept. 25. 

Hernández and Fahrenkopf did note, however, that they are ready to sponsor 2024 presidential debates should circumstances change. The CPD has sponsored presidential debates since 1988. 

“The reason for the CPD’s creation remains compelling: a neutral organization with no other role during the general election is well-positioned to offer formats that focus on the candidate and the issues that are most important to the American people.” Hernández and Fahrenkopf said. 

The U issued an announcement of the cancellation on Tuesday but has not released further comment.

 

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@JosiHinds

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About the Contributor
Josi Hinds
Josi Hinds, News Editor
(she/her) Josi Hinds is a senior at the University of Utah studying journalism with a minor in Spanish. She spent a year as an arts writer before moving to the news desk as editor. Josi grew up in Bozeman, Montana before moving to Salt Lake for school. In her free time, she enjoys climbing, arts and crafts and caring for her plants.

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