Trump Doesn't Like Debate Rule, but He'll Participate

Candidates' microphones will be muted at times, to prevent interruptions
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2020 12:32 AM CDT
Updated Oct 20, 2020 6:50 AM CDT
Final Debate Will Have Mic Muting Rules
This combination of photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept. 29, 2020.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Trump won't be able to interrupt Joe Biden this time around—at least, not for the first two minutes of each of the six debate segments Thursday night. The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has changed its rules so that each candidate will get those two minutes of uninterrupted time for an opening statement, during which the other candidate's mic will be muted, the Hill reports. For the rest of each 15-minute segment, "which by design is intended to be dedicated to open discussion," the commission says, both mics will be on. The commission notes both campaigns had previously agreed to, and have recently reaffirmed, a commitment to giving each candidate two minutes of uninterrupted time to speak, and this rule change only serves to enforce that already-existing rule.

Even so, the Trump campaign has made clear it's not happy with the change. "Regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate," Trump will still participate in the debate, the campaign said in a statement after the rule change was announced Monday. Axios notes Trump had previously suggested he may not participate were mics to be cut off. Earlier Monday, the campaign had also complained about the range of topics announced for the debate, claiming that the commission had previously promised foreign policy would be the central focus (a claim the Biden campaign says is false). "The Commission’s pro-Biden antics have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco and it is little wonder why the public has lost faith in its objectivity," campaign manager Bill Stepien said. (More Election 2020 stories.)

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