It’s “Make my day” vs. “Let’s get ready to rumble!” as the two oldest presidential candidates in U.S. history announced Wednesday they’ll debate twice between now and September.

CNN will host a debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump on June 27 at 9 p.m. ET in Atlanta. CNN anchors Dana Bash and Jake Tapper will moderate. There won’t be an audience present.

Another debate is scheduled on ABC News on Sept. 10.

At least, that’s the plan. But political professionals in New Hampshire and beyond acknowledge Biden’s age and Trump’s temperament mean nothing is certain.

The debate deal came together fast, and in real time, via social media, though media reports indicate backchannel conversations had been underway for weeks.

“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 a video posted on social media. “Well, make my day, pal. I’ll even do it twice.”

“I am Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times in June and September. I would strongly recommend more than two debates and, for excitement purposes, a very large venue, although Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds,” Trump responded on Truth Social.

“Just tell me when, I’ll be there. ‘Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!’”

Biden’s decision to debate says two things about how his campaign views the race: He’s losing, and he can’t afford to feed his worst liability (“He’s too old!”) by not showing up.

“Obviously, it is uphill for President Biden or he wouldn’t be debating in the first place,” said Harris poll chairman Mark Penn.

The New York Times agreed.

“The early-debate gambit from Mr. Biden amounted to a public acknowledgment that he is trailing in his reelection bid, and a bet that an accelerated debate timeline will force voters to tune back into politics and confront the possibility of Mr. Trump returning to power,” according to a NYTimes analysis.

Or to put it another way, Biden is taking a huge risk by doing 90 minutes of live television because he has no choice. That’s a big difference from the Axios report earlier this week that Biden believes he’s winning, and he doesn’t believe the polls.

One Granite State Democratic insider told NHJournal on background that Biden is once again being underestimated.

“Biden was very smart to go on offense and spring the issue today,” the Democrat said.” None of this tells us much about who will win the debates or the election. But reports of Joe Biden’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

“Joe has made a career out of being underestimated, so why should that stop now?”

Veteran GOP strategist Pat Griffin told NHJournal that if he were Biden’s campaign manager, he’d try to keep Biden off the debate stage. “They could use the ‘dignity of the office’ argument, point out that Trump’s under indictment, ‘I cannot tarnish the presidency,’ whatever.”

At the same time, Griffin agrees that, because of the age issue, Biden has no choice.

“There really is no case to be made that he can avoid going one-on-one with Trump. Biden World believes Trump is undignified and that voter’s will never go down that road again. They are clueless.”

And what’s his advice for the two candidates?

“I’d tell Biden that this election is about who you hate the least, not who you like the best,” Griffin said. “You need to make Trump despised, a guy who tried to throw democracy away, and a dangerous choice for the country at a fragile time in this dangerous world.”

And Trump?

“I’d tell Trump (not that he would listen), ‘Don’t be an a**hole. Be tough, be a fighter, remind the country that Biden took a good thing and made it a mess.”

Alicia Preston Xanthopoulos is a longtime GOP comms pro. She says it was “clever for Biden to do it on his terms and smart of Trump to simply say yes.”

Her advice for the two candidates?

“My advice would be something that won’t happen: Be civil; be a statesman; stop with the childish name calling (they’re both guilty) and talk to the people about your actual plans for the presidency. The people deserve no less.”

Josh McElveen has the same take. “They need to talk to the middle, to the people who are going to decide the election, not the base. And they need to explain their positions on Israel, on the border, on Ukraine. They should tell the voters what their plans are.”

Griffin says that’s unlikely.

“In a race to the bottom, you have to make it about the other guy.”