Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s final debate will feature ‘mute’ button following chaotic first clash
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The final debate between Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will feature a mute button to allow each candidate to speak uninterrupted, organisers have said.
President Trump’s campaign voiced objections to the change, which was made after the president repeatedly talked over both Mr Biden and the moderator at last month’s debate.
But the Republicans said he would still take part in the Thursday night event, one of his last chances to reach a large prime-time audience before voting ends on Nov. 3.
The Presidential Commission on Debates said each candidate’s microphone at the debate in Nashville, Tennessee, would be silenced to allow the other to make two minutes of opening remarks at the beginning of each 15-minute segment of the debate. Both microphones will be turned on to allow a back-and-forth after that time.
Mr Trump frequently interupted the presidential challenger during their first debate (Getty Images)
“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,” campaign manager Bill Stepien said.
Democratic challenger Mr Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than 30 million Americans have already cast their ballots, limiting Mr Trump’s chances of reframing a contest that national and state opinion polls show him trailing.
Mr Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden during a chaotic and ill-tempered debate on Sept. 29, at one point provoking Biden to snap: “Will you shut up, man?”
The president backed out of a second scheduled debate set for last Thursday over a disagreement about the virtual format following his Covid-19 infection.
At that time, he raised concerns about having his microphone muted.
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“You sit behind a computer and do a debate – it’s ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want,” Trump said in an October 8 interview on Fox Business.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump’s campaign said it was unhappy with the announced set of topics for Thursday’s debate.
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It argued that it should focus more on foreign policy and asserting that the nonpartisan group was tilted toward Mr Biden.
Mr Biden’s campaign said both sides previously agreed to let moderators choose the subjects.
It said Mr Trump wanted to avoid discussing his stewardship of the coronavirus pandemic, which surveys show is the top issue for voters.
“As usual, the president is more concerned with the rules of a debate than he is getting a nation in crisis the help it needs,” Mr Biden spokesman’s TJ Ducklo said.