Who won the presidential debate is in the eye of the beholder as Trump and Biden argue, giving little of substance to voters and both claiming victory.
WASHINGTON – High school teacher James Miller was skeptical about tuning in to Tuesday’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Democratic Joe Biden, but his wife convinced him to watch.
Now he regrets turning on the television.
“It was a brawl, it was not a debate,” Miller, 49, former debate coach at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky, told USA Today. “It was two old guys arguing at the back table in the bar. “As somebody who teaches persuasion, rhetoric and debate, that was definitely not a debate.”
The clash between Trump and Biden was widely panned as an acrimonious exchange of insults rather than a meaningful discussion of policy differences, and that changes were needed to prevent a repeat.
On Wednesday, the organization that oversees the presidential debates says it will be adding “additional tools” to prevent a repeat of Tuesday’s night’s raucous confrontation between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden.
“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 on Presidential Debates announced.
The commission said it was “carefully considering” changes and would announce them shortly.
The second of three debates between Trump and Biden is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.
Biden’s supporters want future moderators to be able to shut off microphones to prevent Trump from talking over his opponent. The president’s people took umbrage over Biden’s performance too. The former vice president called the president a “clown” and told him to “shut up” as Trump jabbed at him.
Tuesday’s debate, where moderator Chris Wallace of FOX News often tried in vain to prevent continuous interruptions — mostly by Trump — also raised larger questions about whether future ones can avoid the disorderliness of the event in Cleveland.
The two candidates interrupted either Wallace’s questions or their opponent’s 93 times in the 90-minute debate, according to the Washington Post. Trump was responsible for 71 of them, compared to Biden’s 22.
“I have no idea who won this debate. But I do know we’re all worse off because of it,” Todd Graham, director of debate at Southern Illinois University and a three-time national college debate coach of the year, wrote in a column for CNN.
“There are too many life-changing issues for Americans that ought to have been discussed (like, for example, a substantive exploration of the purported topics of this debate, which fell away or got systematically scrambled in the cacophony of chatter the President directed at his frustrated adversary).”
The October 15 debate in Miami will take the form of a town hall meeting, in which the questions will be posed by citizens from the South Florida area.
Each candidate will have two minutes to respond to each question and there will be an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate further discussion, according to the commission.
But Wallace had trouble keeping both candidates, especially Trump, on any kind of clock. When Wallace asked Trump to stop interrupting, the president claimed Biden was interrupting, too.
“Frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting,” Wallace told Trump, at one time asking the president if he would like to change seats and become the moderator.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, of Pennsylvania, said Wednesday he doesn’t believe the format changes the commission might be contemplating will do much to rein in the crosstalk or the interruptions.
“I’m not sure there’s a format change that solves that problem,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said on ABC News that he thought the president might have overdone it a bit.
“I think it was the right thing to be aggressive but that was too hot. I think what happens is with all that heat, you lose the light. That potentially can be fixed. Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll have to see,” he said.
“On the Biden side, I’d be very concerned that his problems can’t be fixed,” Christie said. “Because if you’re not up to being able to stand there for 90 minutes and be consistently coherent, people are going to wonder whether you’ll be able to do that when you;re sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office.”
Miller said salvaging these forums in the future as an important venue for Americans to learn about White House candidates must start with addressing Trump’s continuous interruptions. He said at the very least the organizers must give the moderator or TV director the power to mute a candidate when the other is speaking.
“When you’ve got a bull in a China shop the question isn’t how do you redesign the China shop,” Miller said. “The question is how did the bull get in here in the first place and what can we do to make sure he doesn’t destroy it the next time?”
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/09/30/debate-commission-weighs-new-tools-future-trump-biden-faceoffs/3587482001/