The commission that runs presidential debates said it would change the formats of the next presidential debates after Tuesday’s chaotic clash between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden to provide a more orderly exchange of views.
“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 commission said in a statement.
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The commission did not yet say what changes it would make, but moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News struggled to retain control of the discussion and enforce the time limits for answers that both campaigns had agreed upon. Tuesday’s debate had a traditional format with one moderator and the two candidates standing at lecterns.
The debate commission is non-partisan. Debate formats are crafted after weeks of negotiations between both campaigns and the commission, from the length of the answers, time to respond to challenges and even breaks, a fact Wallace reminded Trump of Tuesday night when he departed from the rules.
The next debate, scheduled for October 15 in Miami, will have a town hall format, which is usually less structured.
Trump brought his confrontational style to the first face-off on Tuesdsay night, prompting numerous blunt and angry retorts on both sides. Wallace had to shout at the nominees several times in order to keep the debate running as planned.
Biden told reporters while on a train tour in Pennsylvania that he hoped any new structure would allow for the candidates to answer the questions more fully.
“I just hope there’s a way that the debate commission can control the ability of us to answer the question without interruption,” he said. Biden would not “speculate” on what the rule changes would be, but suggested the candidates not be able to speak over each other.
“Literally, say, the question gets asked of Trump, he has two minutes to answer the question. He has a microphone and no one else has a microphone. That’s what seemed to me to make some sense,” Biden said.
The Trump campaign dismissed the need for changes and said they would only be in response to what it called a poor performance by Biden.
“They’re only doing this because their guy got pummeled last night. President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs. They shouldn’t be moving the goal posts and changing the rules in the middle of the game,” said communications director Tim Murtaugh.