Upcoming presidential debate will mute Trump and Biden microphones to avoid interruptions

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The Presidential Debates Commission announced rule changes for the second and final debate to avoid a repetition of the chaotic scenes of the first. Mr. Trump has received sharp criticism from political observers and moderator Chris Wallace for repeatedly interrupting his opponent.

After the changes were announced, the Trump campaign pledged to attend the debate “regardless of last-minute rule changes by the biased commission in its latest attempt to give its favorite candidate an advantage.”

Immediately after the first event, which was held in Cleveland, Ohio, last month, the commission announced it would consider changes for the second debate, which ended up being called off following the positive Covid-19 test. of Mr. Trump when he refused to do so. remote debate. Instead, he and Mr Biden staged rival televised town hall events.

The commission said it “had determined that it was appropriate to adopt measures to promote compliance with the agreed rules and that it was inappropriate to make changes to those rules”.

Thursday’s debate is scheduled to take place in Nashville, Tennessee, and will be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC.

The 90-minute debate will be divided into six 15-minute segments and each candidate will be allowed to deliver their first two minutes without interruption.

However, the chat part of each segment will not see a mute button used on the microphones, the commission said.

This means that the two candidates will still be able to talk to each other potentially after the first two minutes.

The first debate was universally criticized for the way it unfolded.

Mr Trump interrupted Mr Biden early on, with the former vice president growing increasingly frustrated during the Supreme Court’s opening segment.

“Do you want to shut it up, man?” Mr. Biden finally asked Mr. Trump as he spoke about him.

As Mr. Wallace tried to switch to coronavirus, Mr. Biden told him, “It was a really productive segment.”

During a discussion about healthcare, Mr. Wallace made several attempts to put his question to Mr. Trump, who continued to interrupt him.

“I guess I’m debating you, not him,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Wallace.

At the end of the debate, Mr. Wallace told the New York Times that this was a “terrible missed opportunity” for the country.

“I never dreamed that it would go off the beaten track like he did,” he said.

The veteran broadcaster admitted he never took full control of the debate when it became clear the president was not going to stick to the agreed-upon rules.

Mr. Wallace was asked if muting Mr. Trump’s microphone would have helped him maintain some control.

“In practice, even if the president’s microphone had been turned off, he could have continued to interrupt, and it could well have been picked up by Biden’s microphone, and that would still have disrupted the debates in the room,” he said. -he declares. .

Mr Wallace also said he was uncomfortable with silencing the two men vying for the White House.

“People have to remember, and too many people forget, that these two candidates have the support of tens of millions of Americans,” he said.

The second debate, which was scheduled to take place on October 15, was initially postponed by the committee following Mr. Trump’s positive test for the coronavirus.

The commission then announced that the debate would be held virtually, but Mr. Trump quickly declined to participate in this format.

Once the president stepped down from the debate, Mr. Biden’s campaign got him an ABC town hall.

This was followed by the president agreeing to take part in an NBC town hall that was controversial to go directly against Mr. Biden’s event.

Mr. Biden ultimately attracted a larger TV audience than Mr. Trump with an average of 15.1 million viewers compared to the president’s 13.5 million.

The cancellation of the second debate created doubt as to whether the two candidates would agree to participate in the third and final debate.

Hours before the changes were announced on Monday, Mr. Trump’s campaign had urged the commission to “rethink and re-edit a set of topics” for debate.

In an open letter posted to Twitter, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien demanded that the debate be focused on foreign policy.

He said Americans deserve to know “if a major US presidential candidate is compromised by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Moderator Kristen Welker said the topics of the debate will be “Fighting COVID-19”, “American Families”, “Race in America”, “Climate Change”, “National Security” and “Leadership”.

Mr Stepien argued that it was a tradition in previous campaigns to re-edit topics, and said the commission did not need to “consult the Biden campaign before responding because we all know what they are doing. think “.

Mr Trump has also started trying to question Ms Welker’s impartiality, saying at a campaign rally in Arizona on Monday that the NBC White House correspondent was “a radical Democrat.”

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