US election: Rules on debates to change after Trump-Biden spat

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The commission that oversees US presidential debates says it will change the format to ensure the remaining two encounters between Donald Trump and Joe Biden are more orderly.

One new measure could be to cut the microphones if the candidates try to interrupt each other, US media report.

The announcement followed Tuesday’s ill-tempered debate that descended into squabbling, bickering and insults.

President Trump’s team has already criticised the commission’s plans.

The tone and tactics of the primary presidential debate were criticised across the US and round the world.

The fallout, however, has also been dominated by remarks Mr Trump made a few far-right group called the Proud Boys.

On Wednesday he sought to clarify his comments, but his critics maintain he has refused to condemn white supremacists.

What are the plans for subsequent debates?
The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) said during a statement that the talk “made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to make sure a more orderly discussion of the issues”.

“The CPD are going to be carefully considering the changes that it’ll adopt and can announce those measures shortly,” it said.

“The commission is grateful to [moderator] Chris Wallace for the professionalism and skill he delivered to last night’s debate and intends to make sure that additional tools to take care of order are in situ for the remaining debates.”

President Trump constantly interrupted Mr Biden resulting in a series of chaotic exchanges during which both men talked over one another .

Mr Trump questioned Mr Biden’s intelligence and Mr Biden called President Trump a clown, telling him to close up and saying: “Will you shut up, man?”

CBS News, citing an informed source, said the commission would spend subsequent 48 hours drawing up new guidelines and rules for the second debate.

Controlling the candidates’ microphones is at the highest of the list, CBS said, so as to stop them interrupting the moderator or one another .

Both campaign teams are going to be informed of the principles but they’re going to not be subject to negotiation, the source added.

The commission may be a nonpartisan body that has organised presidential election debates since 1988.

What’s the reaction?
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh, who had described Tuesday’s night’s chaotic scenes as a “free exchange of ideas”, criticised the plans.

“They are only doing this because their guy got pummelled last night,” he said during a statement.

“President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to figure the refs. They should not be moving the goalposts and changing the principles within the middle of the sport .”

Kate Bedingfield, deputy manager for Mr Biden’s campaign, said the previous vice-president would participate “under whatever set of rules the commission develops to undertake to contain Donald Trump’s behaviour”.

“The president will need to choose from responding to voters about questions that he has offered no answers during this campaign – or repeating last night’s unhinged meltdown,” she said.

What did Mr Trump say about Proud Boys?
During the talk , moderator Chris Wallace asked whether the president would condemn white supremacists and tell them to face down during protests.

When Mr Trump asked who it had been he was being told to condemn, Mr Biden twice said “Proud Boys” .

The president said: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what… somebody’s need to do something about antifa [anti-fascist activists] and therefore the left because this is often not a right-wing problem.”

Proud Boys members called his “stand by” remark “historic” and an endorsement.

Mr Biden said Mr Trump had “refused to disavow white supremacists”.

On Wednesday Mr Trump seemed to attempt to walk back on his comments.

At a press conference on the White House lawn a reporter asked him about Proud Boys and he said: “I do not know who they’re . I can only say they need to face down and let enforcement do their work.”

He didn’t clarify his use of “stand by” within the debate. When asked whether he welcomed supremacist support he said only that he wanted “law and order to be a really important a part of our campaign”.

Joe Biden returned to the difficulty during a tweet on Wednesday, saying: “There’s no other thanks to put it: the President of the us refused to disavow white supremacists on the talk stage last night.”

In his tweet he quoted a comment, addressed to the president, from a Proud Boys online forum that read: “This makes me so happy. We’re ready! Standing by sir.”

Source: bbc news

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