Trump not too keen on debate rule changes
President Donald Trump on Thursday indicated he will be averse to accepting changes in rules for the remaining two presidential debates, saying he “easily won” the first showdown.
The rule changes are being considered by the body that conducts the debates to prevent a repeat of the chaos witnessed in the first debate in Ohio, in which Trump had repeatedly interrupted Joe Biden, his Democratic rival, and argued with the moderator Chris Wallace.
“Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?” Trump wrote in a tweet, claiming victory when even his own allies have publicly conceded he may have hurt himself more by his conduct than his intended target, Biden.
Trump had repeatedly talked over Biden and heckled him in an apparent bid to dominate the stage, forcing an exasperated Biden to call him a “clown” at one stage and ask him to “shut up” at another. All the while, the president had defied rules of engagement that his campaign had agreed with the commission.
Trump’s tweet came after the Commission on Presidential Debates, set up in 1987 to conduct election debates for president and vice-president, said it plans to introduce “additional structure” to ensure “a more orderly discussion of the issues” for the remaining debates, one for vice-president and two for president. This may include cutting the mic of the person who is not speaking.
Biden, who has called Trump a “national embarrassment” for this debate behaviour, said he is open to changes in the debate format, though he has neither called for them nor made his participation in the remaining rounds contingent on them.
Asked about allowing the moderator to mute speakers, Biden said on Thursday that he was open to it as long as “we have an opportunity to respond to the questions from the people in the audience.”
The next presidential debate will be a town hall in which members of the audience question the candidates. “I think it’s appropriate that when a person, a constituent, some considering how they’re going to vote this year, when they ask a question, of whomever they ask that question, gets an opportunity to answer it fully.”
Trump has been trailing Biden in polls, even in the six or eight battleground states that will determine the outcome. He was expected to use the first debate to snatch the initiative and turn around the race. He failed on both counts, from all indications and may have ended up alienating potential voters.
Biden leads Trump 50.1%-42.9% in the RealClearPolitics average of polls nationally and 50.9%-42.7% in the FiveThirtyEight weighted average of polls.
Both nominees and their surrogates are stumping in battleground states, with Trump focusing on opening up new pathways to victory and a second term as he trails in the battleground states that won him the 2016 election, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.