The Commission on Presidential Debates, on Monday, announced changes to the debate rules for the Thursday night presidential debate. The debate commission met on Monday afternoon and decided that potential changes were required because of the chaos observed in the first debate. The Sept. 29 debate, was widely criticized for its off-the-rails nature and lack of structure.
NEW: Commission on Presidential Debates announces a change to Thursday's presidential debate: "The only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules." pic.twitter.com/zzGpH2NHHc
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 20, 2020
New debate rules
Under the new rules, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will each have two minutes of uninterrupted time to speak at the beginning of every 15-minute segment of the debate.
“The only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules,” the debate commission announced. After that, during the time for discussion, both candidates will have their microphones open.
The Commission on Presidential Debates says both campaigns have agreed to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule. It’s an effort to allow Trump and Biden more equitable time to answer questions in the final round of presidential debate.
In an official statement issued by the commission announces, “The Commission is announcing today that in order to enforce this agreed upon rule, the only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules. For the balance of each segment, which by design is intended to be dedicated to open discussion, both candidates’ microphones will be open.”
After two-minute answer from each candidate, both microphones will be unmuted.
“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,” commission explains. “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.”
Donald Trump and Joe Biden had been scheduled for a debate last week, but because of the safety protocols that debate was cancelled. Days after the first debate Trump had been hospitalized with COVID-19. Instead of debate, the presidential candidates held competing town halls last week.
Thursday’s debate comes just 11 days before the November 3 general election, in which President Trump and former Vice President Biden will compete for the Oval Office.
Trump’s reaction over new debate rules
In a statement, the Trump campaign said it was “committed to debating Biden regardless of last-minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide an advantage to their favoured candidate.”
“I’ll participate. I just think it’s very unfair,” Donald Trump responded to a reporter’s question about the change on Monday.
Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, stated in his opinion, “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.”
Meanwhile, Bill Stepien released a request that the debate focuses on foreign policy, as opposed to the topics chosen by NBC News moderator Kristen Welker. The topics include: race, national security, leadership, America’s families, COVID-19, and climate change.
“We understand that Joe Biden is desperate to avoid conversations on his own foreign policy record, especially since President Trump has secured historic peace agreements among Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain,” Stepien said.
Joe Biden’s official response
TJ Ducklo, Biden spokesman, while responding to the Stepien’s complaints, stated, “The campaigns and the Commission agreed months ago that the debate moderator would choose the topics. The Trump campaign is lying about that now because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous COVID response. 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.”