The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) will mute President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden during the two-minute response times allotted to their opponents for commenting on topics during Thursday’s debate in Nashville.
The commission said in a statement that it “had determined that it is appropriate to adopt measures intended to promote adherence to agreed-upon rules and inappropriate to make changes to those rules.”
Also included in the debate will be an open discussion forum that won’t include the mute option. Thursday’s debate will consist of six 15-minute segments, totaling 90 minutes in all as in the first debate.
Trump’s and Biden’s initial debate was widely panned as both candidates faced backlash for their behavior. The two candidates skipped the second presidential debate after Trump was diagnosed with the novel coronavirus and declined to participate in a virtual format.
Announced on Monday, the new rule drew scrutiny from the Trump campaign, which urged the commission earlier in the day to include more discussion of foreign policy in the next debate.
“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,” read a statement from campaign manager Bill Stepien
In a letter, Stepien had accused the commission of adding to a broader pattern of “pro-Biden antics” with its choice of topics. The upcoming debate topics included fighting COVID-19, American families, national security, leadership, climate change, and race in America.