The Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-partisan body that organizes these face-to-face meetings, announced Monday that it will turn off the microphones of the president and Republican candidate for reelection, Donald Trump, and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, during some parts of next Thursday’s event. This decision is announced after the first (and only to date) face-to-face meeting between Trump and Biden in late September led to chaos and multiple interruptions, especially from the president to his opponent.
Next Thursday’s decision, which will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, will last 90 minutes and be divided into six 15-minute parts, with the first four minutes split between Trump and Biden for a first uninterrupted two-minute statement. These will be the two minutes that each candidate will enjoy at the beginning of each topic during which the microphone of their opponent will be turned off to ensure that there are no interruptions.
In a statement, the Commission on Presidential Debates noted that “both campaigns reaffirmed again this week their agreement to the two-minute uninterrupted rule. “The Commission announces today that to ensure compliance with this agreed-upon rule the only candidate whose microphone will be on during these two-minute periods will be the candidate who has the floor,” it said.
The remaining minutes on each of the topics will be with both microphones open, although the Commission noted that “its hope is that the candidates will be respectful of each other’s time” despite having the opportunity to question or interrupt each other. “We realize, after speaking with both campaigns, that neither is completely satisfied with the measures announced. One may think they are going too far and the other that they are falling short. We are comfortable that these measures strike the right balance and are in the interest of the people,” the Commission added.
The first face-to-face meeting was widely commented on because of Trump’s constant interruptions that led Biden to lose his temper at some point and ended up telling the president, “Why don’t you shut up, man?”