Signs announcing the second and final debate between 2020 U.S. presidential candidates President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden are seen on the front of the Curb Event Center that will host the October 22 debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., October 20, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Bourg


President Donald Trump and Joe Biden won’t be able to interrupt each other during their two-minute opening statements for Thursday’s debate, and that’s because of muted microphones, courtesy of the Commission on Presidential Debates. Both will have their microphones on during open-discussion segments of the debate. “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 in a statement.

The decision came after the Sept. 29 presidential debate, moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, was criticized for a lack of structure and frequent interruptions from both candidates. The commission said in a statement that it acted out of concern that the first debate had fallen short, “depriving voters of the opportunity to be informed of the candidates’ positions on the issues.” It also acknowledged that the two campaigns might not be satisfied with the changes.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien objected to the changes in an open letter. “It is completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power, and a decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden,” he wrote. He also urged the commission to alter the topics to focus more on foreign policy.

Biden campaign spokesman T.J. Ducklo said the campaigns and commission agreed months ago that the debate moderator would choose the topics. “The Trump campaign is lying about that now because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous COVID response,” Ducklo said.

The following topics will be discussed during the Oct. 22 debate moderated by Kristen Welker:

  • Fighting COVID-19
  • American families
  • Race in America
  • Climate change
  • National security
  • Leadership


Trump tells ‘Fox & Friends’ that election campaign going ‘very well,’ Biden ‘imploding’ over laptop reports – Fox News – 10/20/2020
Trump spoke two days before the second presidential debate, where he predicted what he expects, and accused Biden of playing a “dirtier” game than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. “Hillary was a much smarter person than him, but they play a much dirtier game, and she was dirty with emails and everyone else… she was terrible,” he said. On the election, the president framed it on issues such as taxes and regulations, and warned of a socialist nightmare if Biden was to win in two weeks.

Debate commission to mute candidates during their opponent’s initial responses to prevent interruptions – CNN – 10/20/2020
The decision came after the commission met Monday afternoon to discuss potential rule changes to the debate format. They decided that the changes were needed because of how the first debate between Biden and Trump devolved into chaos, with the President frequently interrupting the former vice president.

Trump Blasts Final Debate Moderator As ‘Terrible,’ ‘Totally Partisan’ – The Daily Wire – 10/20/2020
“Kristen Welker is terrible,” Trump said. “I mean she is totally partisan. Her father and mother are big supporters of Joe Biden for a long time. They’re supporters of the Democrat Party, and she deleted her entire account.” “There are people out there that can be neutral. Kristen Welker cannot be neutral at all,” he said.

Mics will be cut for portions of final presidential debate after commission adopts new rules – USA Today – 10/20/2020
The microphones of both candidates will be on during the “open discussion” portion of the 90-minute debate, the commission said. The moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News, has been tasked with returning any time taken up by interruptions to the other candidate. Welker won’t have the ability to cut the microphones during this period if one candidate speaks over the other.

Presidential Debate Commission to Mute Microphones to Prevent Interruptions – National Review – 10/20/2020
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Tuesday it will mute the microphones of President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden during their opponent’s designated response times on Thursday in the second and final debate. At the beginning of the six segments of the debate, each candidate will be allotted two minutes to answer an initial question, during which time the opposing candidate’s microphone will be muted.

Trump: Not Letting Me Scream Over Joe Biden The Whole Debate Is “Crazy” – Vanity Fair – 10/20/2020
For anyone who doesn’t want to listen to Trump honk and whine over his opponent and the moderator for an hour and a half, this is perhaps a small but welcome step in the right direction. But for Trump, whose strategy relies on the very interruptions the new rule is meant to cut down on, it’s further evidence that the deck is stacked against him.


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