President Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden will have their microphones muted in the next presidential debate on Oct. 22, in accordance with new restrictions sanctioned by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). 

The controlled microphone muting will help facilitate a clean and rule-abiding rhetorical exchange between the two candidates and will create the spirit of a traditional thrust-and-parry style Oxford debate.

“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 commission said to CNBC in a statement. 

The CPD said that each candidate will be granted a two-minute speaking segment in response to moderator imposed questions, while the other candidate’s microphone will be off.

The debate will be moderated by NBC journalist Kristen Welker at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee beginning at 9:00 p.m. E.T. and run for 90 minutes without commercial interruptions, according to a press release announcing the details of the debate

The topics for the debate will include:

  • Fighting COVID-19
  • American Families
  • Race in America
  • Climate Change
  • National Security
  • Leadership

The CPD’s announcement yielded mixed reactions.

“We realize, after discussions with both campaigns, that neither campaign may be totally satisfied with the measures announced today,” the CPD said. 

“One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough. We are comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and that they are in the interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held.”

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump Campaign Communications director, quickly denounced the decision and said it’s an “attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate.” Murtaugh added that Trump was still “committed to debating Joe Biden” no matter the cost. 

“I’ll participate. I just think it’s very unfair,” Trump said when asked by reporters about the change on Monday.

Just before the announcement, a letter sent by Bill Stepien, Campaign Manager of the Trump Administration, condemning the commission’s previously announced selection of debate topics, stated: “It is completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power, and a decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden.” 

“For the good of campaign integrity, and for the benefit of the American people, we urge you to re-think and reissue a set of topics for the Oct. 22 debate,” Stipend added. 

A Joe Biden Spokesman, TJ Ducklo said in response to the Stepien letter that both campaigns and the CPD agreed months ago the debate moderator would choose topics.

“The Trump campaign is lying about that now because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous COVID response. As usual, the president is more concerned with the rules of a debate than he is getting a nation in crisis the help it needs,” said Ducklo.

Written ByDaniel Seidman

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