US debate format to be changed after disjointed first round

Debate commission says additional structure needed for more orderly discussion

US president Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. The president frequently interrupted his opponent Joe Biden during the first presidential debate of the 2020 election campaign. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg

US president Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. The president frequently interrupted his opponent Joe Biden during the first presidential debate of the 2020 election campaign. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg

 

The US presidential debate commission says it will make changes to future debate formats to avoid a repeat of the disjointed first meeting between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Moderator Chris Wallace struggled to keep control of the debate because of frequent interruptions, primarily by the president.

Fox News anchor Mr Wallace had few options, other than pleading with the candidates, to make changes when rules that were agreed to by the campaigns were not followed.

The commission said on Wednesday the 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”.

One possibility being discussed is to give the moderator the ability to cut off the microphone of one of the debate participants while his opponent is talking, according to a person familiar with the deliberations who was not authorised to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The next presidential debate is a town hall format scheduled for October 15 in Miami.

Both campaigns say they expect to attend future debates.

The commission says it will announce its changes shortly. – PA