This combination of pictures created on September 29, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020.
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The group that sponsors the presidential debates said Wednesday that it will make format changes to the next showdown between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden “to maintain order” in light of their fractious first showdown.
The initial debate between the candidates in Cleveland on Tuesday night quickly descended into disorder, with frequent name-calling and interruptions. Trump on several occasions resisted moderator Chris Wallace’s admonitions to follow the rules and to allow Biden to speak uninterrupted.
“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 the Commission on Presidential Debates in a statement.
The commmision added that it “will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates said it was “grateful to” the Fox News journalist 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 next debate between the Republican incumbent Trump and former Vice President Biden is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.
Steve Scully, the political editor at C-SPAN, is the moderator for the second debate. It will be in a town hall format.
A third presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville. NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker is set to moderate that debate.
Aaron Kall, director of the University of Michigan’s debate program and author of “Debating the Donald,” told CNBC that, “Given the public outrage over last night’s debate, it’s not surprising the Commission on Presidential Debates would try and do something to quell the disappointment expressed by so many.”
But Kall added, “I do think that changing the previously agreed to debate rules in the middle of this debate cycle increases the odds of not having future debates between President Trump and Biden.”
“In addition to already expressing dissatisfaction with moderator Chris Wallace’s performance last night, it’s easy to envision the Trump campaign arguing the rules of the debates are being changed midcourse in order to protect and advantage Biden,” he said.
Kall noted that Trump skipped the Iowa Republican primary debate in 2016.
“With only a few weeks remaining until the next scheduled presidential debate, that doesn’t leave much time for both sides to reach an agreement on the new rules, which no doubt would be open to multiple interpretations and exceptions,” Kall said.
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