US President Donald Trump said Thursday 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 organizers announced 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 organizations 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.
“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.”
Microphone kill switch?
The second presidential debate, which will be in a town hall format with audience members putting questions, is scheduled for October 15 in Miami. The third is set for October 22 in Nashville.
Among possible changes being discussed to help moderators is allowing them to turn off a candidate’s microphone, in hopes of preventing interruptions and outbursts. 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 he and Biden 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.
She told reporters 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 November 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.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)