President Donald Trump’s campaign team has made a last-minute request to add another ground rule before Tuesday night’s first presidential debate between the president and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Trump’s re-election campaign wants the Biden campaign to allow a third party to examine the ears of each participant to see if either is wearing electronic devices or transmitters, Fox News reported. “The president has consented to this kind of inspection, but Biden has not, so far, sources said,” Fox wrote.
A source said the Biden campaign has declined the ear check. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh tweeted “can confirm” in reference to the reports.
NEW: Joe Biden’s campaign agreed to an inspection for electronic ear pieces at tonight’s debate several days ago but are now declining, a source familiar tells me.
— Ebony Bowden (@ebonybowden) September 29, 2020
The Biden camp, meanwhile, is also reportedly asking for additional rules. Team Biden wants two breaks during the 90-minute debate, one after the first 30 minutes and another at the one-hour mark. “But that request has been denied by their Trump counterparts, Fox News is told.”
A Trump campaign source told Fox News that “our guy doesn’t need breaks. He gives 90-minute speeches all the time.”
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany fired a tweet at the Biden camp: “There are no breaks when you’re leader of the free world, Joe!”
Biden is asking for a break every 30 minutes during tonight’s debate!
There are no breaks when you’re leader of the free world, Joe! https://t.co/2lMiKAHD7Q
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) September 29, 2020
The Biden campaign has since reportedly denied the claim that they requested debate breaks every 30 minutes.
The first debate starts at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who recently announced the topics for the head-to-head battle between Trump and Biden.
“The topics for the September 29 debate are as follows, not necessarily to be brought up in this order,” the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced last week.
- The Trump and Biden Records
- The Supreme Court
- The Economy
- Race and Violence in our Cities
- The Integrity of the Election
The debate was set to run for 90 minutes with no commercials before Team Biden’s request.
The first debate will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator and announced at least one week before the debate.
The moderator will open each segment with a question, after which each candidate will have two minutes to respond. Candidates will then have an opportunity to respond to each other. The moderator will use the balance of the time in the segment for a deeper discussion of the topic.
The second debate will be town-hall style and will be moderated by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully in Miami on Oct. 15. The final debate will be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC and will take place in Nashville on Oct. 22.
For the one vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), USA Today’s Susan Page will moderate the event, which will take place in Salt Lake City on Oct. 7.
“We are grateful to these experienced journalists, who will help ensure that the general election presidential debates continue to serve their unique educational purpose of helping the public learn about the candidates. Each individual brings great professionalism to moderating and understands that the purpose of the 2020 debate formats is to facilitate an in-depth discussion of major topics,” Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., Dorothy S. Ridings, and Kenneth Wollack, co-chairs of the non-partisan CPD said in a statement.
Wallace expressed frustration last month, saying Biden “continues to lead with what I’ll call the basement strategy. I don’t think you can hide from now until Election Day. I just…don’t think it’s possible.” He also said it was “the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen” — and he’s been covering politics a long time.
But Wallace has also attacked Trump, saying in December that he believes Trump “is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history.”
This article has been updated to include the Biden campaigns denial.
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