The first series of debates for the presidential nominees were widely criticized for a variety of reasons, but the candidates cutting each other off and not allowing one another to speak was one of the primary complaints. On Monday, the event’s sponsors announced that the candidates will both have their microphones cut at certain times during the debate
According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, when one of the candidates is given a chance to provide a two-minute answer to each of the six debate topics, his opponent’s microphone will be muted.
“It is the hope of the Commission that the candidates will be respectful of each other’s time, which will advance civil discourse for the benefit of the viewing public,” the statement said.
The final debate scheduled between Trump and Biden is set for Thursday at 9 p.m. ET in Nashville and it will be moderated by NBC News’ Kristen Welker. The debate will include six debate topics that are given 15 minutes each, and the entire debate will run for 90 minutes.
This Thursday night, @kwelkernbc moderates the second and final debate between President Trump and Joe Biden.
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 20, 2020
The topics are:
Race in America
The topics were chosen by debate host Kristen Welker.
In a recent statement, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien accused the commission of bias, but said the president “is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last-minute rule changes.”
Trump also said that he was treated unfairly because the moderators for both debates were not fans of his.
On Saturday, Trump posted a tweet about Walker that said, “She’s always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters, but I’ll still play the game.”
On Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien shared a letter on Twitter urging the debate hosts to ensure that foreign policy would be the main focus, instead of the coronavirus, climate change or race in America. Foreign policy is probably Trump’s strongest issue with undecided and left-wing voters.
There will not be questions about #foreignpolicy at Thursday's #debate! @PressSec says it's a deliberate attempt by the #media to hide President #Trump's successes in the #MiddleEast. #Biden #Debates2020 #VarneyCo pic.twitter.com/KwCZOPkR0g
— Varney & Co. (@Varneyco) October 20, 2020
Despite his excessive praise for the US military, President Trump is actually to the left of Biden on foreign policy. According to numerous staffers and reporters who spoke on conditions inside the White House, including Trump crtitics like John Bolton and Bob Woodward, Trump is actually insistent on getting out of Afghanistan and has argued to scale back military action and spending in the middle east, but has been consistently undermined by the intelligence community and his generals. Biden, on the other hand, has adopted the philosophy of military intervention in the name of humanitarian war.
On the other hand, Trump obviously wanted to avoid talking about race and the COVID pandemic response because these are his weakest areas. On the topic of race, many undecided voters have been waiting to hear Trump explicitly condemn white supremacy, but for him to do so would be political suicide because so much of his voting base is driven by white fragility.
There is also a very good chance that the candidates will veer off-topic in the final debates. President Trump has already said that he will press Biden on the recent controversies surrounding his son.