There Will Be a Mute Button at the Next Presidential Debate
The final debate will be held on October 22.
There are less than 40 days until Election Day 2020. With all the attention that mail-in voting is getting, fears over long lines and safety issues because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the constant barrage of news headlines, it's easy to forget that the presidential and vice-presidential debates are still set to happen, though there are sure to be a host of changes to the usual format.
Here's what you need to know, from when they are to how to watch and what to expect — though there's no telling what'll go down when President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden take to the microphones.
Why was the second debate been canceled?
According to the New York Times, the October 15 debate was supposed to be held virtually following the president's COVID-19 diagnosis. "The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations,” the Commission on Presidential Debates said. However, Trump told Fox Business' Maria Baritomo on Thursday that he will not participate. "I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. It’s not what debating is all about. ... It’s ridiculous," he said.
Later, Biden's campaign responded saying “Joe Biden was prepared to accept the C.P.D.’s proposal for a virtual Town Hall, but the president has refused, as Donald Trump clearly does not want to face questions from the voters about his failures on Covid and the economy.” They went on to say they are looking forward to the October 22 debate.
On Friday, October 9, CNN reported that the Commission on Presidential Debates officially canceled the October 15 debate.
"It is now apparent there will be no debate on October 15, and the CPD will turn its attention to preparations for the final presidential debate scheduled for October 22," the commission said in a statement. The decision was made after a "furious" 48-hour-long exchange between the CPD and both presidential campaigns. The third debate, scheduled to take place in Nashville on October 22, will be the final debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden.
What do we know about the third debate?
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced on Monday that Biden and Trump are set to have their microphones muted during parts of the final debate, after the president repeatedly interrupted Biden during the first debate.
"We realize, after discussions with both campaigns, that neither campaign may be totally satisfied with the measures announced today," the commission said in a statement. "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."
According to CNN, at the start of each of the six segments of the debate, each candidate will be given two minutes to answer an initial question. During that time, the opposing candidate's microphone will be muted.
"I'll participate. I just think it's very unfair," Trump said in response to the changes.
What time are the 2020 presidential debates?
The first is scheduled to be held at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, September 29, at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. The second and third are on the calendar for Thursday, October 15, at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida; and Thursday, October 22, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Those debates are also set to go from 9-10:30 p.m. Eastern time and have no commercial breaks.
While those dates will probably stay unchanged, the COVID-19 pandemic could cause some disruptions. There's no telling.
How to watch the presidential and vice-presidential debates?
All of the debates, presidential and vice-presidential, will be broadcast on all major news networks including, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and FOX
Who will be moderating the debate?
According to The New York Times, Chris Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday, will host the first debate. Steve Scully, the senior executive producer of C-SPAN, will moderate the second. Kristen Welker, NBC's White House correspondent, will helm the third. USA Today's Susan Page will be holding court at the vice presidential debate.
Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in a statement, "These are not the moderators we would have recommended if the campaign had been allowed to have any input. Some can be identified as clear opponents of President Trump, meaning Joe Biden will actually have a teammate on stage most of the time to help him excuse the radical, leftist agenda he is carrying."
Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said in a statement to the BBC, "As Joe Biden has said for months — without farcical antics — he looks forward to participating in the debates set by the commission, regardless of who the independently chosen moderators are."
Will Trump and Biden be in the same room?
According to the Washington Post, Trump requested that both candidates appear on stage. The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates hasn't announced whether or not Trump and Biden will be calling into the debates or if they'd be happening as they have in the past, with an audience and both candidates on stage together. The commission has simply stated that the debates will adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wasn't there supposed to be another debate?
The Trump campaign unsuccessfully lobbied for one additional debate, stating that mail-in voting ballots were being sent out in September. The commission rejected the proposal, stating that the "difference between ballots having been issued by a state and those ballots having been cast by voters, who are under no compulsion to return their ballots before the debates."
Will there be another vice-presidential debate?
There will not be another VP debate. There was only one scheduled which occurred on October 7th.