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Reports: Next Trump-Biden debate may have mic cut off feature for moderators

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images/TNS)
October 01, 2020

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which is in charge of organizing presidential election debates, is considering microphone cut-offs amid possible debate format changes after the first debate on Tuesday night between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

NBC News reported that a source close to the CPD said no final decisions have been made on specific changes, but one option the commission is considering is the ability to cut off a candidate’s microphone if they violate debate rules. CBS News also reported from a source familiar with the CPD’s planning that the CPD is spending 48 hours considering rule changes, and controlling candidates’ microphones is considered at the top of the list of potential changes.

After a fiery debate that included name-calling and frequent interruptions, the commission said in a Tuesday statement, “Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues. The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”

The commission also thanked Wallace for his efforts to maintain order during the first debate, saying, “The Commission is grateful to Chris Wallace for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night’s debate and intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates.”

During the first debate on Tuesday night at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Trump frequently interrupted Biden during his speaking time, while Biden also interrupted Trump and called Trump a “clown” and told Trump “will you shut up, man?”

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Early on in the debate after Fox News anchor and debate moderator Chris Wallace tried to stop the cross-talk between the two candidates, Trump said to Wallace, “I guess I’m debating you.”

Following Tuesday night’s debate, Biden said of Trump, “Well, you know, he not only attacked me constantly and my family, but he attacked the moderator.”

Biden added, “I just hope there’s a way in which the debate commission can control the ability of us to answer the question without interruption. I’m not going to speculate on what happens in the second or third debate.”

Responding to the CPD statement on Wednesday, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said, “President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs. They shouldn’t be moving the goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of the game.”

Trump also criticized the debate moderation in a tweet Wednesday. “Try getting a new Anchor and a smarter Democrat candidate!” he tweeted.

The second presidential debate is set for Oct. 15 in Miami, Florida, and will be moderated by C-SPAN political editor Steve Scully, while the third and final debate is set for Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tennessee, and will be moderated by NBC White House Correspondent Kristen Welker. Vice President Mike Pence will face off against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Biden’s vice-presidential pick, for a vice president debate on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to be moderated by USA Today’s Susan Page.