Hours after the nation endured perhaps the most chaotic presidential debate in U.S. history, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that it would impose “additional structure” in an effort to “maintain order” at the two remaining forums before Election Day.
“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” said Wednesday’s statement by the commission, the nonprofit corporation that oversees debate rules. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”
Citing “an informed source,” CBS News correspondent Norah O’Donnell reported Wednesday that the changes under consideration included cutting off a candidate’s microphone should new debate rules not be followed.
EXCLUSIVE: @CBSNews has learned the Commission on Presidential Debates plans to issue strict new rules in the coming days that include cutting off a candidate's microphone if they violate the rules, per an informed source.
More tonight on the @CBSEveningNews
— Norah O'Donnell 🇺🇸 (@NorahODonnell) September 30, 2020
Right from the start of Tuesday’s debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, President Trump employed a strategy of interrupting former Vice President Joe Biden at every turn. Biden responded in kind, and the debate soon devolved into a shouting match between the two candidates.
Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News attempted, but failed, to restore order during the clashes.
“Gentlemen! I hate to raise my voice, but why should I be different than the two of you?” Wallace quipped at one point. “I think that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions. I’m appealing to you, sir, to do that,” Wallace said, turning to Trump.
“Well, and him too,” Trump muttered, gesturing toward Biden.
“Well, frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting than he has,” Wallace retorted.
While the commission has not made public what it will do to try to prevent further chaos on the stage at the remaining two presidential debates, on Oct. 15 and 22, Wednesday’s statement made clear that it did not hold Wallace responsible for Tuesday night’s fiasco.
“The commission is grateful to Chris Wallace for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night’s debate and intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates,” the CPD statement said.
As the debate grew more testy with each passing minute, Wallace stepped in, reminding Trump that he had agreed to the rules that forbade candidates from talking over one another.
“Mr. President, your campaign agreed that both sides would get two-minute answers uninterrupted — well, your side agreed to it. Why don’t you observe what your campaign agreed to as a ground rule, OK, sir?”
“He never keeps his word,” Biden interjected.
On Wednesday, Trump responded to the announcement that the CPD would institute changes before the next debate.
“Try getting a new Anchor and a smarter Democrat candidate!” Trump tweeted.
Cover photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP, Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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