The Commission on Presidential Debates has instituted new rules for the final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday.
Thursday's debate will constitute of six segments lasting 15 minutes each. During each 15-minute segment, the candidates will have two minutes each to answer the opening question. While one candidate is answering, the other candidate's microphone will be muted. After both Biden and Trump have answered, the two will have 11 minutes available for crosstalk.
“We are comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and that they are in the interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held,” the commission said.
Previously, the President has pushed back against the practice of muting microphones. Trump called the move "completely unfair."
“I just think it is very unfair,” he said.
In addition to his frustrations with the rule changes, his campaign staff has taken issue with the debate topics selected by moderator Kristen Welker. Welker has announced that she will moderate discussions between the two candidates about the COVID-19 pandemic, race in America, American families, climate change, national security, and leadership. Members of Trump's team were upset that "foreign policy" wast not included as a debate topic.
“As is the long-standing custom, and as has been promised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate. We urge you to recalibrate the topics and return to subjects which had already been confirmed,” campaign manager Bill Stepien complained.
Despite the Trump campaign's concerns, the President will participate in the debate. Bill Stepien has reassured the commission that President Trump remains “committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last-minute rule changes.”
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