Commission on Presidential Debates Announces a Change Ahead of Thursday's Debate

Posted: Oct 19, 2020 8:55 PM
Commission on Presidential Debates Announces a Change Ahead of Thursday's Debate

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Commission on Presidential Debates on Monday announced a change for the final debate, which is scheduled for Thursday night. The candidates' microphones will be muted periodically throughout the evening.

The debate is set to be divided into six segments that are 15-minutes each, for a total time of 90 minutes. Each candidate will be given two minutes to provide their response to a question the moderator proposes. Their opponent's mic will be muted while they answer to prevent interruptions. Once the two minutes are over, microphones will be unmuted and an "open exchange" can take place, USA Today reported.

"During the times dedicated for open discussion, it is the hope of the Commission that the candidates will be respectful of each other's time, which will advance civil discourse for the benefit of the viewing public," the commission explained in a statement. "As in the past, the moderator will apportion roughly equal amounts of time between the two speakers over the course of the 90 minutes. Time taken up during any interruptions will be returned to the other candidate."

The Trump and Biden campaigns have been at odds with how Thursday night's debate will take place. Biden's campaign has frequently pushed for rule changes to be made while Trump's team has advocated for the rules to remain the same.

"We realize, after discussions with both campaigns, that neither campaign may be totally satisfied with the measures announced today," the statement read. "One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough. We are comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and that they are in the interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held."

The Trump campaign slammed the decision, saying this is another way for the commission to prop up former Vice President Joe Biden.

“President Trump is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate. This was supposed to be the foreign policy debate, so the President still looks forward to forcing Biden to answer the number one relevant question of whether he’s been compromised by the Communist Party of China," Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement. "Why did Biden allow his son Hunter to sell access to him while he was vice president, and why were there Chinese payment arrangements for Joe himself worked out by Hunter and his sketchy partners? If the media won’t ask Joe Biden these questions, the President will, and there will be no escape for Biden."

The decision comes after the Trump campaign called on the commission to change debate topics. This debate was billed as a foreign policy debate but the topics are light on actual foreign policy concerns, the campaign said early on Monday. Set topics include "Fighting COVID-19," "American Families," "Race in America," "Climate Change," "National Security" and "Leadership."

Conservatives have been concerned about the final debate moderator, NBC's Kristen Welker, and her objectivity. Once it was announced that she was chosen, she deactivated her Twitter account. It was later revealed that she has deep ties to the Democratic Party.

The second and final presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday at 9 p.m. ET in Nashville.

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