Presidential debate commission making changes ‘to ensure more orderly discussion’

Presidential debate commission making changes ‘to ensure more orderly discussion’
President Donald Trump makes a points as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden listens during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Morry Gash/AP, Pool)

Officials plan to change the format of the next two presidential debates after the first showdown between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden devolved into name-calling and general chaos, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday.

Facing off Tuesday night in Cleveland, Trump and Biden constantly interrupted and spoke over one another as debate moderator Chris Wallace struggled to keep the conversation on-topic.

“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 Commission said Wednesday in a statement. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”

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Officials didn’t elaborate on the proposed changes except to say that they are aimed at maintaining order for the remaining debates.

The group, which sponsors televised presidential debates, also thanked Wallace “for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night’s debate.”

The Fox News anchor appeared visibly frustrated at times Tuesday as Trump and Biden tangled with each other.

“The country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions,” he told Trump at one point in the debate. “I’m appealing to you, sir, to do that.”

“Ask him, too,” Trump said.

“Well, frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting than he has,” Wallace said.

Biden on Wednesday called the debate “a national embarrassment.” But despite some suggestions that the final two presidential encounters be canceled, both campaigns said they expected their candidate to attend.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said the commission was “only doing this because their guy got pummeled last night. President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs.”

Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are scheduled to meet Oct. 7 at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City for the vice presidential debate. Trump and Biden are expected in Miami on Oct. 15 for the next presidential debate, which will be held in a town hall format.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.