NASHVILLE, Tenn. (NEXSTAR) — President Donald Trump will participate in Thursday’s debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden despite rule changes — opposed by his campaign — that are meant to foster more ordered discussions.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement that Trump “is committed to debating Joe Biden regardless of last minute rule changes from the biased commission in their latest attempt to provide advantage to their favored candidate.”
Over the last few days, Trump has been openly contemplating the prospect of losing, while Biden warned his supporters against overconfidence as the race speeds into its closing days.
With millions of votes already cast, Biden’s lead in the polls appears strong. The campaigns appear to be moving in opposite directions on paper, but it’s a very different feeling on the campaign trail. Trump is drawing huge crowds reminiscent of 2016′s final days. Biden is sticking to his cautious approach with tiny events focused more on social distancing than energizing supporters.
While there will be plenty of action in the days leading up to the election, this week will center on Thursday’s final debate, which may be Trump’s last and best chance to change the direction of this election.
Here are four things we know about Thursday’s debate in Nashville:
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced Monday that the second and final debate between the two candidates will have each nominee muted while the other delivers his two-minute remarks at the outset of each of the six debate topics. The remainder of each 15-minute block will be open discussion, without any muting, the commission said.
The move is meant to prevent a repeat of the inaugural debate three weeks ago when the two candidates, but mostly Trump, interrupted each other repeatedly.
Format is largely unchanged
The overall format for the second debate, minus the muting, will look mighty similar to the first.
Each segment of the 90-minute event will run approximately 15 minutes. The candidates will have two minutes to respond to questions from moderator Kristen Welker of NBC. Welker will control the flow of the segment after her initial question.
Trump has already started attacking Welker, tweeting, “She’s always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters, but I’ll still play the game, The people know!”
Topics are set
The Commission on Presidential Debates released a list of topics for the debate. They are:
- Fighting COVID-19
- American Families
- Race in America
- Climate Change
- National Security
Trump’s campaign is asking The Commission on Presidential Debates to add another topic to the debate.
“We write with great concern over the announced topics for what was always billed as the ‘Foreign Policy Debate’ in the series of events agreed to by both the Trump campaign and Biden campaign many months ago,” campaign manager Bill Stepien wrote in the letter.
This is it
There was initially talk of trying to reschedule the second debate to Oct. 29. That never happened.
As of now, this is the last opportunity you’ll have to see the candidates on the same stage ahead of decision day.