President Donald Trump indicated on Monday night that he would not bail on the next and final debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden slated for Thursday, even after the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that the candidates’ mics would be muted during certain portions of the event.
“I will participate,” Trump told reporters upon returning to the White House from his campaign rally in Arizona. “But it’s very unfair that they changed the topics and it’s very unfair that again we have an anchor who’s totally biased.”
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement that the President would be participating in the debate “regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate.”
Earlier in the evening, the CPD announced that in order to enforce its rule on allowing each debate participate to speak uninterrupted for the first two minutes per each 15-minute segment, “the only candidate whose microphone will be open during these two-minute periods is the candidate who has the floor under the rules.”
The rest of the segment will be open discussion, during which both mics will be on, the commission said.
The CPD’s announcement seemed to tacitly acknowledge that that the Trump campaign, which has consistently bashed the commission over changes to the debate format, would be upset by the development, particularly after Stepien complained in a letter to the commission earlier in the day that muting candidates’ mics would be “completely unacceptable.”
“We realize, after discussions with both campaigns, that neither campaign may be totally satisfied with the measures announced today,” the commission stated. “One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough. We are comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and that they are in the interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held.”
The rule change came in response to widespread criticism over the first chaotic debate last month, which saw Trump repeatedly interrupting both Biden and debate moderator Chris Wallace.