Trump wants no rule changes after chaotic first debate

Trump walks to Marine One as he departs the White House for Bedminster, New Jersey, Oct 1, 2020.
Trump walks to Marine One as he departs the White House for Bedminster, New Jersey, Oct 1, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump said on Thursday (Oct 1) he likes his debates with Joe Biden just the way they are and opposes potential changes to try and prevent repetition of the chaos that marred their first clash.

The US presidential debates organisers announced on Wednesday that “additional structure” is needed “to ensure a more orderly discussion” – a polite reference to the meltdown that occurred the previous day in Cleveland.

Trump says not so fast.

“Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?” he tweeted.

Trump has declared himself the winner several times, citing unidentified polls.

Surveys conducted by US media organisations have suggested the opposite, giving Biden the upper hand.

Republicans, Democrats and even the night’s moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, have been nearly unanimous in agreeing that the 90-minute encounter was an ugly and out-of-control occasion.

Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told reporters that the White House sees the bipartisan debate commission as a hostile establishment body – “swamp monsters".

And Trump’s spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany dismissed the idea that her boss had anything to do with the problem.

“I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did,” Wallace told The New York Times on Wednesday.

On Thursday, still smarting from the nationally televised debacle, the hugely experienced Wallace told Fox News that Trump had ruined what should have been the equivalent of a “beautiful, delicious cake.” 

“I felt like I had gotten together all of the ingredients,” Wallace said.

“Then, frankly, the president put his foot in it. And that was frustrating.”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1311731462589292544

The second presidential debate is scheduled for Oct 15 in Miami and the third for Oct 22 in Nashville.

Among possible changes being discussed to help the moderators is allowing them to turn off a candidate’s microphone, in hopes of preventing interruptions and outbursts.

However, debate watchers have already pointed out that one candidate could still yell over the remarks of the other, as Trump did repeatedly on Tuesday.

 

Both interrupted and insulted each other in Cleveland but the president did it the most and certainly the loudest.

Trump senior adviser Jason Miller told reporters that the White House sees the bipartisan debate commission as a hostile establishment body – “swamp monsters".

And Trump’s spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany dismissed the idea that her boss had anything to do with the problem.

McEnany told reporters on Thursday that the only changes the president would agree to in the next debate are “changing the moderator and a change in the Democratic nominee.”

“He doesn’t want rules that cover for a certain candidate’s inability to perform well.”

Trump, who is well behind in polling against Biden ahead of the Nov 3 election, has called the Cleveland debate “an exciting evening.”

Biden confirmed that he will show up, rejecting calls from some of his supporters to boycott the next debates.  

The former vice-president, who at one point on Tuesday told Trump to “shut up,” said he was open to muting of the microphones if that helps the audience.  

“We have an opportunity to respond to the questions from the people in the audience,” he told reporters.  

“I think it’s appropriate that when a person, a constituent, some considering how they’re going to vote this year, when they ask a question, of whomever they ask that question, gets an opportunity to answer it fully.”