The board of the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled all 2024 presidential debates on June 24—including the debate scheduled for Sept. 16 at Texas State University in San Marcos—according to a news release.

How we got here

CPD co-chairs Antonia Hernández and Frank Fahrenkopf stated a May 15 letter from Jen O'Malley Dillon, campaign chair for the Biden-Harris Campaign, informed the commission President Joe Biden will not agree to debate under the sponsorship of the commission during the 2024 general election.

"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," the co-chairs said.

However, Hernández and Fahrenkopf said CPD stands ready to sponsor 2024 debates should circumstances change.

The details

CPD had announced the 2024 debate schedule on Nov. 20, the first of which would take place at Texas State University leading up to the general election. However, the university had paused planning and expenditures related to work on the debate when the presumptive presidential candidates announced an alternative plan for debates, according to a Texas State news release.

Aside from Texas State, there were three other universities preparing to host a presidential debate, including:
  • Lafayette College
  • Virginia State University
  • University of Utah
Quote of note

Texas State University President Kelly Damphousse said it was disappointing, but he understood the CPD's position.

"As the only Texas university to have graduated a U.S. president, we were excited to host the first-ever presidential debate in our great state. We are also proud to be the only Hispanic Serving Institution chosen to host a presidential debate," Damphousse said in a news release. "In the words of our alumnus President Lyndon B. Johnson, ‘Let no one ever think for a moment that national debate means national division.’ We remain steadfast in supporting our students and the entire university community as they continue to learn about democracy, to engage in civil discourse and to participate in the electoral process throughout the upcoming election cycle."

Some context

CPD is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1987 and has since held 33 debates on college or university campuses. The debates, traditionally broadcasted by the White House Pool, run for 90 minutes without commercial breaks.

In 2012, CPD debates had been divided into six 15-minute pods, each devoted to a major issue selected and announced ahead of time by the moderator, according to a CPD news release. Since 1992, the debates have also included a town meeting where citizens can directly ask candidates questions.

"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.