Statement on CPD's 2024 General Election Debates

June 24, 2024                                                                                                                          contact: [email protected]

The Board of the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) today regrettably announced that the four sites selected to host its 2024 debates have been released from their contracts. The four campuses which had prepared to host the debates are:

Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, first presidential debate, September 16, 2024

Lafayette College, Easton, PA, vice presidential debate, September 25, 2024

Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA, second presidential debate, October 1, 2024

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, third presidential debate, October 9, 2024

CPD Co-Chairs Antonia Hernández and Frank Fahrenkopf stated that, “Given the letter dated May 15, 2024 from Jen O’Malley Dillon, Campaign Chair for the Biden-Harris Campaign, in which the Biden-Harris Campaign informed the Commission that President Biden will not agree to debate under the sponsorship of the Commission during the 2024 general election campaign, 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. 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.”

Since its founding in 1987, the CPD has held thirty of its thirty-three debates on college or university campuses. Given the educational purpose of debates, institutions of higher learning have been logical venues and have afforded thousands of students the chance to participate in production, curricular additions and community debate-related projects.

Hernández and Fahrenkopf noted that the CPD stands ready to sponsor 2024 debates should circumstances change. “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.”

The CPD’s debates have traditionally been broadcast by the White House Pool, with coverage by a broad range of domestic and international media. The debates run for 90 minutes, without commercial breaks. Starting in 2012, the CPD’s debates have been divided into six 15-minute pods, each devoted to a major issue selected and announced ahead of time by the moderator. These pods allow for a detailed discussion of the issues without interruption to enforce time limits for answers, responses, rebuttals and surrebuttals. Since 1992, the debates have also included a town meeting, in which citizens get to directly ask questions of the candidates, the format most popular with the public.

The CPD is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that also works with NGOs in more than forty countries to start or enhance leadership debates; see for more information.