Biden: Muting Mics at Debate a ‘Good Idea,’ ‘More Limitations’ Needed

October 22, 2020 Updated: October 22, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden this week praised the decision made by the Commission on Presidential Debates to mute candidates’ microphones during the second and final debate with President Donald Trump in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Biden told WISN12 News on Tuesday.

His comments came a day after the commission announced that candidates’ microphones would alternatively be initially muted for two minutes to allow each candidate uninterrupted response time to the six debate topics. The commission added that after each candidate speaks uninterrupted, 15 minutes of open discussion will follow without any muting.

However, Biden said that he believes the debate changes should go even further.

“I think there should be more limitations on us not interrupting one another,” he added.

“If you noticed last time, according to Chris Wallace, he interrupted the president and me 148 times,” Biden continued. “I hope [Trump] is going to come prepared to talk about what he’s for, but my guess is, he’s kind of signaling that it’s going to all be about personal attacks because he doesn’t want to talk about why he’s taking away health care at the time we’re in the middle of a pandemic, why he has no plan for health care, why he hasn’t provided the money to allow businesses the ability to reopen, why he’s not dealing with unemployment, etc.”

“But I’m going to try very hard to focus on the issues that affect the American people, and talk to them, and I hope they keep the rule—that uninterrupted two minutes,” he said.

Trump, meanwhile, has said that he objects to changes for Thursday’s debate, calling them “very unfair.”

“I will participate, but it’s very unfair that they changed the topics and it is very unfair that again we have an anchor who is totally biased,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force One on Monday.

The Trump campaign said the president would participate “regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate.”

Trump’s remarks came after his campaign called on the commission to include foreign policy as one of the six topics that will be included in Thursday’s debate.

“As is the long-standing custom, and as had been promised by the Commission on Presidential Debates, we had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the Oct. 22 debate. We urge you to recalibrate the topics and return to subjects which had already been confirmed,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien wrote in a letter on Monday.

The commission said on Friday that moderator Kristen Welker of NBC had selected the following topics for the debate: Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership.

Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo told reporters in a statement that “the campaigns and the commission agreed months ago that the debate moderator would choose the topics.” He added that “the Trump campaign is lying about that now because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous COVID response.”

Stepien accused the commission of trying to shield Biden from having to talk about foreign policy, coming after reports last week claimed that his son, Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma, tried to introduce an official from the firm to his father when he served as vice president of the United States.

Biden’s campaign said the meeting never took place and Biden accused the claim as being part of a “smear campaign,” although neither parties have disputed the authenticity of emails surrounding the alleged meeting.

“It is completely irresponsible for the commission to alter the focus of this final debate just days before the event, solely to insulate Biden from his own history,” Stepien’s letter said.

Regardless of the format, Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said that Trump would most likely bring up Biden’s family business ties during Thursday’s debate.

The Trump campaign has repeatedly criticized the debate commission as holding bias against Trump.

The debate is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.