Follow Us

Here's how Biden wants Commission on Presidential Debates to change format

Move would put moderator in control of who can talk.

September 30, 2020 4:28pm

Updated: October 1, 2020 10:17am

Tuesday night's presidential debate was, by most accounts, a train wreck.

Aside from where viewers stand politically, the debate was marred by the two candidates endlessly interrupting each other. Then the moderator lost control, and chaos reigned.

And there are still two more debates.

The Commission for Presidential Debates (CPD) on Tuesday announced that the next debates will feature a new format, saying details would be released soon.

"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 said in a statement. "The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly."

Biden offered an idea while on the campaign trail in Ohio: "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.

"My hope is that they're able to literally say, 'The question gets asked of Trump, here's the microphone, he has two minutes to answer the question, no one else has the microphone.' I don't know what the actual rules are going to be literally, but that to me seems to me to make some sense."

It's a highly unusual move for the CPD to change rules in the middle of the debates. The two candidates' teams spend weeks negotiating over the rules, so last-minute changes don't happen often.

If the commission follows Biden's call, it would be tantamount to the Democrat dictating debate rules. Team Trump would almost certainly object, putting the commission in the position of making a rule agreed to by one candidate but not the other.

Tuesday's moderator, Fox News host Chris Wallace, was roundly criticized for losing control of the debate, but the CPD acknowledged the tough task he had trying to corral the two candidates.

"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," they said.

Right before Tuesday's debate, both sides requested last-minute rules changes.

Trump's campaign team asked to add another ground rule to allow a third party to examine the ears of each participant to see if either is wearing electronic devices or transmitters. Team Biden rejected the change.

The Biden camp, meanwhile, requested two breaks during the 90-minute debate, one after the first 30 minutes and another at the one-hour mark, but Team Trump rejcted that change.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany fired a tweet at the Biden camp: "There are no breaks when you're leader of the free world, Joe!"

Just the News Spotlight