RNC, Trump Push Back on Changing Debate Rules: ‘Why Would I?’

October 1, 2020 Updated: October 1, 2020

The Republican National Committee (RNC) and President Donald Trump both pushed back against suggestions to change the rules of the next two debates after Tuesday night’s event with Joe Biden.

Trump, in a Twitter post, asked “why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?”

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said the commission shouldn’t make any changes to the structure to assist Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.

“I hope the Committee on Presidential Debates does not change the rules to once again protect Joe Biden from answering to the American people,” McDaniel said on Fox News on Thursday. She also suggested that she wouldn’t support any changes that would have either candidates’ microphones cut off if they break a rule.

“I don’t think you should be changing the rules that they have agreed to and I do not think this commission has the right to just arbitrarily change rules without talking to both candidates and getting agreement and input from both sides,” McDaniel said.

During Tuesday night’s debate, some criticized Trump for interrupting moderator Chris Wallace before posing his own questions. At one point, the president told the Fox News host: “First of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him. But that’s okay. I’m not surprised.”

That led some Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to proposing calling off the next two Trump-Biden debates. Biden’s campaign said Tuesday that the former vice president would attend the next two.

The Commission on Presidential Debates on Wednesday, in a statement, said it would implement “additional structure” in the next two debates, without elaborating.

“The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate. Last night’s 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,” the group said.

Those sponsors will now “be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly,” the commission said, without elaborating. “The Commission is grateful to Chris Wallace for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night’s debate and intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates.”

The CPD works with both candidates before the debates to create rules.

McDaniel, in her interview with Fox, suggested that a moderator shouldn’t move on to the next segment until a candidate answers the original question. Some GOP members criticized Wallace for trying to move on during contentious segments or when Trump pressed Biden to answer questions about Antifa, the Supreme Court, or other issues.