It was late October 2020. President Trump had just recovered from a serious case of Covid. A planned second debate between Trump and Joe Biden had been canceled.

And now, in front of a muted crowd, the two men strode onstage in Nashville in dark suits as Biden peeled a cloth mask away from his face.

It appears to be the last time the former and current president were in the same room together — but it turned out not to be their ultimate showdown.

On Wednesday morning, over a flurry of social media posts, the two men who can’t stop running against each other announced they had agreed to meet for two more one-on-one debates: one on June 27, and the other on Sept. 10.

The June meeting — assuming all goes according to plan — will be the latest in-person clash for two men whose contemporary political identities have been irrevocably forged by their shared enmity. Trump, ever the norm-buster, did not attend Biden’s inauguration after his election defeat, so the two men never formally met to hand off power.

I sometimes think about the 2024 election as bizarro 2020, where the characters are the same but key story lines have turned upside down, and the contrasts between that October joust and the one most likely coming in June give us plenty of grist to think about the election that way.


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