Following a nightmare first debate on Tuesday 29th September – which saw some commentators dub it as the “worst presidential debate in history” – the rules are expected to be changed for the upcoming head to heads between the presidential candidates.
The commission which oversees the debates says that the format will be altered for the upcoming debates to prevent it from descending into the same chaos between the candidates as happened the other night.
One of the measures being discussed is to cut the microphone of whichever candidate is not answering the question, in a bid to prevent the constant interrupting (particularly from president Trump) that dogged the first debate.
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) – a nonpartisan body that has organised presidential debates since 1988 – said the first debate had “made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues”.
Moderator Chris Wallace was unable to control the candidates, with childish exchanges underlining the debate and leaving many viewers in despair; president Trump repeatedly ignored the moderator and heckled Biden as he tried to answer questions with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer calling it an “embarrassment for the United States”.
The exchanges included one where President Trump failed to condemn white supremacists in the United States, and instead attacked left-wing ‘Antifa’ (anti-fascist) protesters.
There had been suggestions that the further debates might be cancelled in light of the shambolic first head to head, with suggestions that Trump may drop out following most commentators believing Biden came out the stronger. Trump’s campaign suggested this would not be the case, whilst Kamala Harris (Joe Biden’s running mate) stated. “Joe Biden’s never going to refuse to talk to the American people.”
Trump campaign communications chief, Tim Murtaugh, has criticised the plans to change the format, stating: “They are only doing this because their guy got pummelled last night.”
“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.”
However, the Biden camp has embraced the change, suggesting that the former vice president would participate “under whatever set of rules the commission develops to try to contain Donald Trump’s behaviour”, according to the campaigns deputy manager, Kate Bedingfield.
The debate was held in Cleveland, Ohio – set within the campus of the Cleveland Clinic hospital – yet very little time was dedicated to the discussion of healthcare. Instead, the debate became a blame game on Coronavirus and which candidate would do more damage to America should they take office.
The next debate will be held on 15th October in Miami, Florida, with the final debate between the two nominees being on 22nd October in Nashville, Tennessee; vice-presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Mike Pence will face off on 7th October Salt Lake City, Utah.