U.S. President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will have their microphones cut off in Thursday’s debate while their rival delivers their opening two-minute answer to each of the debate topics.
The 90-minute debate is divided into six 15-minute segments, with each candidate granted two minutes to deliver uninterrupted remarks before proceeding to an open debate. The open discussion portion of the debate will not feature a mute button, but interruptions by either candidate will count toward their time in the second and final debate Thursday.
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced the rule changes Monday, three weeks after a chaotic opening faceoff between the two presidential contenders that featured frequent interruptions — mostly by Trump.
The commission has faced pressure from the Trump campaign to avoid changing the rules, while Biden’s team was hoping for a more ordered debate. In a statement, the commission said it “had determined that it is appropriate to adopt measures intended to promote adherence to agreed upon rules and inappropriate to make changes to those rules.”
Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement that the campaign would accept the rule changes while blasting the “biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate.”
Earlier Monday, the Trump campaign had raised objections to the list of topics released by the debate’s moderator, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker.
“As is the longstanding custom, and as had been promised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate,” Stepien wrote in a letter to the debate commission.
Although most campaign cycles feature at least one debate focused on foreign policy — including in 2016 — the commission had said this summer that the list of topics for the first and third debates would be selected by the moderator.
Welker’s topics include “Fighting COVID-19,” “American Families” and “Race in America.”
With files from Global News
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