The final debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will include a silent button that allows each candidate to speak continuously, organizers said Monday to avoid the disruptions that marred the first matchup.
The Trump campaign expressed opposition to the change – made after the president repeatedly spoke of both Biden and the moderator at last month’s debate in violation of its agreed rules – but said the Republican would still attend the event Thursday night, one of his last chances to reach a large first-class audience before the vote ends on November 3rd.
The Presidential Commission for Negotiations said that each candidate’s microphone during the debate in Nashville, Tennessee, would be silent to allow the other to make two minutes of introductory remarks at the beginning of each 15-minute segment of the debate. Both microphones will be on to allow back and forth after that time.
“President Trump is obligated to discuss Joe Biden regardless of rule changes at the last minute from the party commission in their latest attempt to give their favored candidate an advantage,” said campaign manager Bill Stepien.
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
More than 30 million Americans have already cast their ballots, limiting Trump’s chances of reformulating a competition that national and state polls show him subsequently.
Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden during a chaotic and unpleasant debate on September 29, which at one point provoked Biden to snap: “Will you shut up, man?”
‘THEY CUT YOU’
Trump backed from another scheduled debate, which was put on hold last Thursday, over a disagreement over the virtual format following his COVID-19 infection. At the time, he raised concerns that his microphone was muted.
“You sit behind a computer and debate – it’s ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want,” Trump said in an Oct. 8 interview on Fox Business.
Earlier Monday, Trump’s campaign said it was dissatisfied with the announced set of topics for Thursday’s debate, arguing that it should focus more on foreign policy, arguing that the non-partisan group was tipped against Biden.
The city’s campaign said both sides had previously agreed to let moderators choose the topics. It said Trump wanted to avoid discussing his management of the coronavirus pandemic, which studies show the biggest issue for voters is.
“As usual, the president is more concerned about the rules of a debate than he is about giving a nation in crisis the help it needs,” said Biden spokesman TJ Ducklo.
The number of Americans who voted early reached 30.2 million on Monday, according to the University of Florida’s US election project. This number represents more than one-fifth of all the votes cast in the 2016 election.
Early voting is likely to increase this week as more states open polling stations for those who want to avoid possible coronavirus exposure at crowded polling stations.
In Florida, where more than 2.5 million have already voted by mail, residents lined up for the first day of early personal voting. A Reuters / Ipsos poll released last week showed that Trump and Biden were effectively tied to the state, which is seen as a must-win for the president.
Hundreds of people, most wearing face masks, stood in pouring rain in the morning outside the public library in Coral Gables, a majority-Spanish city near Miami.
Louis Perez, 57, an investigator of insurance fraud, said he voted for Biden because of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“He lied about it right from the start,” Perez, who is not affiliated with a party, said of Trump.
Registered Republican Antonio Sanchez, an architect who arrived in the United States from communist Cuba, said he supported Trump because he “stands for freedom” and against socialism.
“My two daughters are doctors,” said Sanchez, 59. “I do not think this could have happened anywhere other than America.”