After what can only be described as the most mutually aggressive general election debate in modern American history, the Commission for Presidential Debates, in tow with Democrats, are working on changing the debate format for the two remaining faceoffs between President Trump and Joe Biden.
The debate… was a bit of a mess. According to one Washington Post reporter, there was an interruption every minute. “I went through it in detail to look at just how this thing transpired and, specifically, how much each candidate interrupted the moderator,” Aaron Blake of the Washington Post said. “I found that there was actually one interruption per minute in the debate, over 90 minutes.”
“I found 71 of those (interruptions) were from President Trump and 22 of those were from Joe Biden,” he added. Blake did not count interplay interruptions where candidates went back and forth overtalking one another. He also didn’t count the times moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News cut off the candidates in the middle of a relevant statement.
A Fox News analysis found “Biden interrupted Trump 49 times and Wallace 18 times for a total of 67 times. Trump, meanwhile, interrupted Biden 71 times, Wallace 74 times for a total of 145 times.”
Compared to Trump’s relatively subdued 2016 debate performance against Hillary Clinton, he came in like a wild bagger while Biden let the President walk all over him. If Trump let Biden get a word in edgewise, voters would have seen the Democratic candidate’s lack of preparedness against obvious attacks.
When the four debates (3 between presidential hopefuls and 1 between vice presidential candidates) were proposed, both campaigns agreed to a particular structure which called for candidates to give two-minute uninterrupted answers to questions followed by an extended discussion between Trump and Biden.
To anyone who had the pleasure of watching, things did not go as planned. As a result, the Debate Commission is mulling over ways to make the next two debates more palatable. Tuesday night “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 Commission said.
According to the Associated Press, an anonymous insider told the outlet “one possibility being discussed is to give the moderator the ability to cut off the microphone of one of the debate participants while his opponent is talking.”
Echoing the sentiment of the Commission, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said during a press conference, “maybe we should give the moderator a mute button, given how President Trump just interrupts at will. and the bottom line is Donald Trump doesn’t follow the rules [and] the commission has got to get a lot tougher.”
The Biden campaign is also onboard with potential format changes. “Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said the former vice president would participate in upcoming debates under the rules laid out by the debates commission,” according to The Guardian.
“The only real question left is whether the President will start following the rules in the next two debates,” Bates added.
Trump, on the other hand, rejected any suggestion of altering the format. The campaign does “not want any changes to what has already been laid out and what has been agreed to for the second and third debate, period, point blank,” Trump senior campaign adviser Jason Miller told reporters.
“Campaign manager Bill Stepien said it was “not history” for the commission to change the rules after a debate has been held. The president also signaled he would oppose any rules changes,” The Guardian reported.
“Why would I allow the debate commission to change the rules for the second and third debates when I easily won last time?” Trump asked in a tweet on Thursday in response to the proposed altercation.
Trump has agreed to participate in the next two debates regardless of format, but will not support any changes made.