The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced on Wednesday that it is planning to introduce new rule and a change in format for the remaining debates ahead of this year's election. The announcement comes after the first of the three scheduled presidential debates between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday was marred by frequent interruptions and insults, drawing bipartisan outrage.
The commission also said that it plans to conduct the remaining debates in a more orderly fashion. Tuesday's debate saw Trump repeatedly disregarding the rules, resulting in a chaotic debate that lacked in substantive policy conversation.
Stricter Rules to be Introduced
The commission hasn't yet revealed what changes would be made, but said the new rules will be aimed at conducting the debates in a more systematic and smooth manner. Tuesday's debate was nowhere close to that and moderator Chris Wallace almost throughout the evening struggled to retain control of the discussion and enforce the time limits for answers that both campaigns had agreed upon.
"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," the CPD said in a statement. The CPD also said that the changes will be announced shortly and the remaining debates will be governed by the new rules.
Tuesday's debate was conducted maintaining the traditional format of one moderator and two candidates but ended up being a damp squib where both Trump and Biden fired a barrage of insults at each other and drifted away from substantive policy conversation.
Tuesday's debate left the audience annoyed with one of the TV hosts even describing it as "a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck." The social media and cable television too were abuzz with criticism following the debate. So much so that there were multiple suggestions like the only way to have a productive debate would be to cut off the mics of the candidates when they step out of line.
A CBS News/YouGov poll shows that majority of the audience felt the debate went nowhere. Around 69 percent said the debate made them feel annoyed, compared to just 17 percent who said they were inspired and 9 percent who said they were informed.
What Changes Can Be Expected?
As of now, nothing is clear about the changes. However, what's sure is CPD doesn't have much time to formulate new rules. The debate commission is non-partisan. Formats for debates are crafted after weeks of negotiations between both campaigns and the commission, from the length of the answers, time to respond to challenges and even breaks, a fact Wallace reminded Trump of Tuesday night when he departed from the rules.
The next debate, scheduled for October 15 in Miami, will have a town hall format, which is usually less structured. If the rules are not reformulated, there are chances that Trump will once again go ahead with his usual confrontational style into a so-called face off with Biden.
Moments before the CPD made the announcement, Biden told reporters while on a train tour in Pennsylvania that he hoped any new structure would allow for the candidates to answer the questions more fully. That said, a source close to the commission said it was considering the ability to cut off a candidate's microphone when the rules are violated.
However, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh has expressed his displeasure after the CPD's announcement. In a statement he wrote the commission "shouldn't be moving the goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of the game."