President Donald Trump, on Thursday evening, really will be heading into the Lion’s Den. Reports have already detailed how NBC’s Kristen Welker, the journalist who will moderate the third and final presidential debate, has “deep Democratic Party ties.”
Now, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CBD) has made two other changes to the debate format that would seem to be for the benefit Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden.
Following the first, interruption-heavy presidential debate, many Democrats expressed a wish to be able to mute President Donald Trump’s microphone in future debates. That wish has been granted.
The CPD has announced that both President Trump and Biden’s microphones will be muted during the initial two minute response periods that each candidate gets following the moderator’s question. The microphones, however, will not be muted during “open discussion” segments.
Frank Fahrenkop, the chairman of the CPD, defended this decision on Tuesday, claiming:
This is not a new rule, the campaigns agreed early on going back to June. Both agreed to live with it. It provides clearly that for the first four minutes of each of the six segments that each candidate gets to speak for two minutes without interruptions.
Reports have indicated that President Trump was planning on letting Biden speak a lot more, anyway. But still, it would seem that the CPD here is giving Democrats what they asked for, and Biden agrees.
“I think it’s a good idea. I think there should be more, more, limitations on us not interrupting one another,” Biden said on Thursday.
The end of a tradition
It has been a longstanding tradition that the focus of the third presidential debate is foreign policy. It makes sense given that, under the Constitution, the president’s preeminent role is in directing foreign affairs. That tradition, however, has been abandoned for Thursday’s debate.
The CPD has announced that the topics discussed will be “Fighting COVID-19,” “American Families,” “Race in America,” “Climate Change,” “National Security,” and “Leadership.”
It’s a convenient change especially considering how successful President Trump and his administration have been on the foreign affairs front; Take, for example, the recent Middle East peace deals that he brokered. But, it appears that the CPD doesn’t want to give President Trump the chance to speak about his successes – notice “the economy” is also missing as a topic.
Will “play the game”
Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, put out a statement on the rule changes, saying:
President Trump is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last-minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate.
President Trump, on Wednesday, said, “I think the mute is very unfair, but that’s my life. In the meantime, that’s the White House standing behind me, right?” On a previous occasion, he said that, despite the cards being stacked against him, he will “still play the game” because “the people know.”