Pressed for time and short of cash, President Trump will confront former Vice President Joe Biden tonight in their second and final debate as the incumbent’s faltering campaign seeks a last-minute comeback before election day.
Organizers of the debate — which starts at 6 p.m. Pacific time — are determined not to allow a repeat of the unruly last face off between Trump and Biden, which devolved into an incoherent shouting match by Trump’s repeated interruptions.
The meltdown of decorum moved the independent Commission on Presidential Debates to add a precaution to its format: a mute button.
The microphone will be shut off if a candidate tries to talk when it is not his turn. Moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News will focus her questions on the fight against COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership.
Other Republicans urged Trump to strike a calmer, more serious tone this time in an effort to reassure wavering voters, but the president has given no indication he will do so.
Trump campaign officials signaled that Trump’s guest at the debate will be a former business partner of Biden’s son, Hunter, who is accusing the Biden family of corruption.
Biden denies any impropriety and has accused the Trump campaign of seeking to divert voters’ attention from the president’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed nearly 223,000 Americans this year — more than any other country.
Trump branded the mic shut-off switch part of a conspiracy against him, telling Fox News, “The whole thing is crazy.” He condemned Welker and stepped up his broader crusade against the mainstream media in the run-up to the event Thursday.
“Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS,” Trump wrote on Facebook, as he tried to preempt the popular CBS newsmagazine broadcast of his interview, planned for Sunday, by posting his own clips from it. “Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse! #MAGA.”