UPDATE, 6:35 PM: Donald Trump is lashing out at the “biased” Commission on Presidential Debates for the newly announced rule changes clearly aimed at him, but the incumbent’s campaign insists its guy will still show up on October 22.
“President Trump is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate,” said a statement from campaign manager Bill Stepien this evening.
“This was supposed to be the foreign policy debate, so the President still looks forward to forcing Biden to answer the number one relevant question of whether he’s been compromised by the Communist Party of China,” the remarks added. “Why did Biden allow his son Hunter to sell access to him while he was vice president, and why were there Chinese payment arrangements for Joe himself worked out by Hunter and his sketchy partners? If the media won’t ask Joe Biden these questions, the President will, and there will be no escape for Biden.”
No word yet from the Biden team, who are also demanding that Trump produce a negative COVID-19 test result before their man steps on stage with him in Nashville on Thursday.
PREVIOUSLY, 5:17 PM: Donald Trump and Joe Biden will have to watch what they say and their time saying it during the final presidential debate later this week.
To stop the dumpster fire lit by the constantly interrupting ex-Celebrity Apprentice host at the first meet-up between the candidates on September 29, the Commission on Presidential Debates revealed Monday that it will turn off one contender’s microphone while the other speaks on Thursday in Nashville, a plan that would seem to put Trump’s already argumentative participation at likely risk just two weeks before Election Day
“Under the agreed upon debate rules, each candidate is to have two minutes of uninterrupted time to make remarks at the beginning of each 15-minute segment of the debate,” the CPS said this evening after a day of meetings on possible rule changes. “These remarks are to be followed by a period of open discussion.”
While the commission never says poll-lagging Trump’s name in its statement, it is pretty clear at whom they are directing this unprecedented shift.
“Both campaigns this week again reaffirmed their agreement to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule,” the bipartisan group added. “The Commission is announcing today that in order to enforce this agreed upon rule, the only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules. For the balance of each segment, which by design is intended to be dedicated to open discussion, both candidates’ microphones will be open.”
“We realize after discussions with both campaigns, that neither campaign may be totally satisfied with the measures announced today,” it concluded with huge understatement. “One may think they go too far, and one my think they do not go far enough.”
AKA – Welcome to America 2020!
Neither the Trump nor Biden campaign has responded to the new state of affairs just three days before the October 22 debate. We will update if and when they do.
Rescheduled as the final debate after the October 15 second debate fell apart due to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and refusal to do the event virtually, the rule change is just the latest drama today in the debate discourse. As my colleague Ted Johnson wrote earlier Monday, Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, wrote in a letter to the commission that the focus of the next event should be on foreign policy, not on the list of topics selected by moderator Kristen Welker from NBC.
Calling a losing hand when they see it, Team Trump doesn’t want to talk about the chosen topics of fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership. Now, they might not want to talk at all and take their red ball home.
The anticipated debate is supposed to show live on ABC, CBS, NBC, all the cabler newsers, PBS, C-SPAN and everywhere else.