The Commission on Presidential Debates is developing changes to provide “additional structure” to the remaining debates, the commission said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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 in a statement. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”
Many pundits have lambasted the first debate, held Tuesday in Cleveland, as an off-the-rails affair where President Trump and his Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden spent much of the time trading insults and interruptions.
The commission commended debate moderator Chris Wallace for the “professionalism and skill” he brought to the proceedings.
The CPD “intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates,” the statement said.
Some observers on both sides expect the commission to allow the moderator to cut off a candidate’s microphone when it’s his rival’s turn to speak.
Daniel Goldman, former lead counsel for the House impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, said on Twitter, “If a debate has a set time for answers (like 2 mins), why is the other candidate’s mic on during the time? This doesn’t seem complicated.”
Former Republican National Committee staffer Doug Heye, now a CNN commentator, said on Twitter, “If you thought Trump blames the moderator now, wait until one mutes him…”
Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said the president’s team will discuss possible changes with the debate commission.
“It depends on what that mechanism is,” Mr. Gidley said on Fox News.
Noting that Mr. Biden suggested that he’d like the microphones to be cut off, Mr. Gidley quipped, “I’m sure he would. He suffered quite a bit last night when President Trump called him out for all of his lies.”
“It remains to be seen,” Mr. Gidley said of the possible rule change. “Whatever they [the commission members] want to do, I’m sure our people will talk to them, and we’ll try and negotiate something.”
Cutting off the microphone could deny the president one of the main tactics he used in the first debate — peppering his rival directly with uncomfortable questions.
The president, who says journalists treat Mr. Biden far more gingerly than they treat him, decided to take matters into his own hands during the debate in Cleveland. He confronted the Democrat repeatedly with questions that he believes the media overlooks, such as why Mr. Biden won’t release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
“Who is on your list, Joe?” the president demanded. Mr. Biden still didn’t answer.
After reporters tossed more softball questions at Mr. Biden on Wednesday at a campaign event in Ohio, the president tweeted, “Such a timid group of reporters at the Biden Press Conference. Where do these people come from?”
The president, leaving Washington for a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday night, told reporters that he thought the debate was “great.”
“We got tremendous reviews on it. We’re hitting what people want — law and order,” Mr. Trump said. “Biden was unable to talk about it … because he’d lose the radical left. But I thought it was a great evening.”
The president said he “felt very comfortable” during the event.