Donald Trump signaled that he would oppose changes to the rule of the second and third presidential debates, while claiming that he “easily won” the first match up with Joe Biden.
“Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?” he tweeted on Thursday.
Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2020
In response to widespread criticism of the debate on Tuesday, primarily over Trump’s repeated interruptions of Joe Biden, the organizers of the debates said that they are considering changes, including additional structure to ensure “a more orderly discussion of the issues.” The Commission on Presidential Debates, a bipartisan group that has sponsored the gatherings since 1988, reportedly is considering one measure that would allow for a candidate’s microphone to be turned off if they flout the rules.
Trump has done this dance before when it comes to debates. Earlier in this cycle, there was some speculation that he would not participate, as he claimed that the commission was “very biased.” As the debates approached, his campaign pressed the commission to add another debate or move the schedule, while suggesting a list of moderators. None of them were picked.
Now Trump seems to be keying up a standoff with the commission, which is expected to unveil their new rules in the next day or so. He could refuse to abide by them and skip the debates. Or, as has been the case in other situations, he could dangle the prospect until the last minute, and then declare some kind of victory when he shows up.
On Wednesday, Tim Murtaugh, communications director of the Trump campaign, said in a statement, “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 goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of the game.”
Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager for the Biden campaign, said, “Joe Biden is looking forward to the Town Hall in Miami. He’ll be focused on answering questions from the voters there, under whatever set of rules the Commission develops to try to contain Donald Trump’s behavior. The president will have to choose between responding to voters about questions for which he has offered no answers in this campaign — or repeating last night’s unhinged meltdown.”
Scientific polls conducted since the debate have shown that viewers thought that Biden won the debate, not Trump.
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