US President Donald Trump and his White House challenger Joe Biden are arguing over the plans for their latest debate.
The Republican president’s campaign accused organizers of the showdown of aiding the Democrat by leaving foreign policy off the list of topics this week.
Biden’s camp retorted that Mr. Trump was trying to avoid questions about his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Biden has a prominent national lead in opinion polls two weeks before the election.
But it has a smaller lead in the handful of key US states that will ultimately decide the outcome.
What did the Trump campaign say about the debate?
On Monday, the president’s camp sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates requesting that the topics be adjusted for the final prime-time duel on Thursday.
Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien said in the letter that the campaigns had already agreed that foreign policy would be the focus of the third debate.
The topics were announced by NBC News moderator and correspondent Kristen Welker last week: American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership.
At a campaign rally Monday afternoon in Prescott, Ariz., Mr Trump described Ms Welker as a “radical Democrat” and said she would “be” no good.
Mr Stepien accused Mr Biden of being “desperate to avoid conversations about his own foreign policy record” and the commission of trying “to isolate Biden from his own history”.
“The Commission’s pro-Biden antics turned the entire debate season into a fiasco and it’s no wonder the public has lost confidence in his objectivity,” he wrote.
He also accused Mr Biden of trying to avoid questions over reports of alleged emails from his son, Hunter, and alleged conflicts of interest.
How did the Biden campaign respond?
The Democratic camp countered that it was actually Mr. Trump trying to avoid questions.
“The campaigns and the Commission agreed months ago that the moderator of the debate would choose the topics,” said national press secretary TJ Ducklo.
“The Trump campaign is lying about this now because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous response to Covid.
“As usual, the president is more concerned with the rules of a debate than he is getting a nation in crisis the help it needs. “
What are the rules for the upcoming debate?
Following public criticism of the conduct of the first debate, the committee adopted a new rule to mute microphones during the final event.
The structure of the 90-minute debate will be divided into 15-minute segments. At the start of each new topic, both candidates will be given two minutes of uninterrupted time – during which the opponent’s microphone will be turned off.
The rest of the time will be open discussion – and the microphones will not be muted during this time.
In a statement announcing the decision, the debate committee said it considered it “appropriate to adopt measures to promote compliance with the agreed rules”.
The Committee noted that “a [campaign] may think they are going too far, and you may think they are not going far enough, ”but that these actions provided the right balance in the public interest.
What happened with the last two debates?
Trump’s campaign leader wrote on Monday that the moderator of the second canceled debate on October 15, Steve Scully, was suspended after tweeting a prominent Trump critic and then lying that his account was hacked.
Mr Stepien also accused the moderator of the first debate, Chris Wallace of Fox News, of acting as a “third fighter” against Mr Trump.
The first Trump-Biden duel on Sept. 29 resulted in slurs and name-calling, with the president interrupting many more times than the Democrat has, according to post-debate U.S. media statistics.
How is the advance voting carried out?
Nearly 30 million early voters have already voted, compared to just six million so far before the last presidential election in 2016.
Experts say the coronavirus pandemic prompted many to vote ahead to avoid overcrowding at polling stations on November 3, although some early voters faced long lines.
On Monday, Republicans were defeated by the United States Supreme Court, refusing to take up a case over mail-in ballots in the critical alternative-voting state of Pennsylvania.
Republicans had argued that only ballots received on election day should be counted and were challenging the state Supreme Court’s decision to allow late ballots to be counted.
Now that the highest U.S. court has declined to hear the case, all ballots received within three days of November 3 will be counted, even if they do not have a clearly postmarked postmark.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s three Liberal justices in the case.