Trump Plans to Debate Biden Despite Rule Change on Muted Mics

October 19, 2020 Updated: October 20, 2020

President Donald Trump plans to attend the debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Oct. 22 despite reports of a late addition of a rule—opposed by his campaign—which would mute each candidates’ microphone to allow his opponent two minutes of uninterrupted response time.

The president “is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate,” said Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, which claims to be nonpartisan, announced on Monday that the second and final presidential debate will mute each candidates’ microphone for two minutes during the initial response to six of the debate topics. After each candidate speaks uninterrupted, 15 minutes of open discussion will follow without any muting, according to the commission.

The Biden campaign did not immediately comment on the new rule.

The debate commission cancelled what should have been the second debate after it changed the debate format to a virtual event and Trump refused to attend.

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

Steve Scully, the political editor tapped to moderate the Oct. 15 debate, was suspended by C-SPAN for lying about a Twitter post in which he appeared to coordinate with Trump critic Anthony Scaramucci. Scully’s credibility as an unbiased debate moderator was already in question after it was revealed that he worked as an intern for Biden when the former vice president was a senator from Delaware. Scully also worked as a staffer for former Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. During the 2016 campaign, Scully posted a New York Times opinion article from David Brooks, titled, “No, Not Trump, Not Ever.”

Instead of the Oct. 15 debate, the two candidates scheduled competing town halls on ABC and NBC. The Biden campaign claimed at the time that Trump cancelled the event to avoid facing questions from voters.

“The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly. Every Presidential candidate since 1992 has participated in such an event, and it would be a shame if Donald Trump was the first to refuse,” Deputy Biden Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement on Oct. 8.

On Oct. 16, the commission announced the debate topics for the Oct. 22 event to be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News. The topics chosen were the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic, racism, national security, climate change, American families, and leadership. The Epoch Times refers to the SARS-CoV-2 virus as the CCP virus.

The Trump campaign has criticized the commission for excluding foreign policy from the debate, especially on the heels of several reports based on emails allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son.

Earlier this month, former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) alleged that the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) had no Trump supporters, hinting that the commission is “biased.”

Dole wrote on Twitter that while the CPD is “supposedly bipartisan,” with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, he knows all of the Republicans and is “concerned that none of them” support President Donald Trump.

“A biased Debate Commission is unfair,” he added. The president weighed in on the senator’s remarks, writing on Twitter: “Thank you … So true!”

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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