US Debate Commission Promises More ‘Structure’ for Next Trump-Biden Encounters

The independent U.S. presidential election debate agency said Wednesday that it would move soon to tighten the format of the encounters after critics panned Tuesday’s first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden as the worst in American political history.The two candidates frequently interrupted each other or talked at the same time, with debate moderator Chris Wallace, a Fox News journalist, rebuking Trump for failing to adhere to the rules of the debate to allow both candidates to finish answering questions unimpeded.The Commission on Presidential Debates said the debate debacle showed the need for “additional structure” to the format “to ensure a more orderly discussion.”The commission commended Wallace for his “professionalism” for his handling of the chaotic affair on a debate stage at a university in the Midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio. But the agency said it would soon impose new restrictions before the second and third Trump-Biden debates set for October 15 and 22.Some critics of the first Trump-Biden encounter suggested cutting off the microphone of either Trump or Biden when the other was speaking.Both claim successBoth Trump and Biden claimed they were successful in Tuesday’s encounter and then headed back out on to the campaign trail Wednesday, with the November 3 election now less than five weeks away.“I thought the debate last night was great. We’ve gotten tremendous reviews on it,” Trump told reporters as he departed for Minnesota. “I thought it was a great evening. It was an exciting evening.”Trump was headed to Minnesota, a Midwestern battleground state that he narrowly lost in 2016 but hopes to recapture against Biden. Polls show the president trailing in the state and throughout the country. Trump was to attend a campaign fundraising event at a private home near Minneapolis, the state’s biggest city, then head to Duluth, the westernmost Great Lakes shipping port in the U.S., for a rally with supporters.   U.S. President Donald Trump disembarks Air Force One upon arriving at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, after returning from the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio, Sept. 30, 2020.Biden started a campaign train trip through parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio, two political battleground states that Trump won four years ago against Democrat Hillary Clinton but where polls show Biden has pulled ahead of the president. Biden is especially attempting to recapture blue-collar workers in the two states that historically have voted for Democrats but turned to Trump in 2016. Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Amtrak’s Alliance Train Station, in Alliance, Ohio, Sept. 30, 2020.After pillorying each other in Tuesday’s debate as unfit to lead the country for the next four years, the two candidates resumed their attacks Wednesday on Twitter.  Trump claimed, “Nobody wants Sleepy Joe as a leader, including the Radical Left (which he lost last night!).” The president said Biden “disrespected” Bernie Sanders by “effectively calling him a loser!” Sanders, the Vermont senator who is the leader of the Democrats’ progressive wing, was the last remaining Democratic contender opposing Biden for the party’s presidential nomination before conceding the race to him earlier this year. Nobody wants Sleepy Joe as a leader, including the Radical Left (which he lost last night!). He disrespected Bernie, effectively calling him a loser!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Debate moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace directs the first 2020 presidential campaign debate between U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, in Cleveland, Ohio, Sept. 29, 2020.More than an hour into the debate, moderator Chris Wallace, a Fox News journalist, rebuked the president for not adhering to the debate rules agreed to ahead of time by the two campaigns that each candidate would allow the other to finish answering questions unimpeded. Trump and Biden are set to debate each other twice more in the coming weeks, on October 15 and 22, after next week’s debate between their respective vice-presidential running mates, Vice President Mike Pence and California Senator Kamala Harris. It is not immediately clear what could prevent another verbal free-for-all encounter between Trump and Biden, short of moderators cutting off the microphones to let Trump and Biden answer questions without the other interrupting.  University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato posted a blunt message on his Twitter account:  “CANCEL THE REMAINING PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES.”CANCEL THE REMAINING PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES. It is impossible to have an orderly, productive exchange with Donald Trump. Stop pretending otherwise. The front page of French weekly newspaper Le Point displays a photo of President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden with a headline reading “America on a volcano, (and Us too)” in Paris, Sept. 30, 2020.Veteran Washington Post political analyst Dan Balz said, “Judging the debate by traditional standards gives the evening more credit than it deserves. For most people, this was unwatchable, a grab-the-remote, change-the-channel moment in a forum that in past election years has served the country well. What two more debates like this will accomplish is hard to imagine, other than to heighten tensions in a country already on edge.”  Markus Feldenkirchen of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel posted on Twitter, saying, “The debate was a joke, a low point, a shame for the country. Roaring, insults, two over-70s who interrupt each other like 5-year-olds — and a moderator who loses all control. The trigger, of course: Trump’s uncouth, undignified behavior.”