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Guidelines for Tonight’s Presidential Debate

Tonight’s CNN Presidential Debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will introduce several unprecedented rules in the history of presidential debates. These guidelines aim to ensure a more orderly and respectful exchange between the candidates.

First and foremost, the candidates will only be allowed a pen, a pad of paper, and a water bottle on stage. Props and prewritten notes are strictly prohibited. This measure is designed to keep the focus on the candidates’ impromptu responses and their ability to articulate their positions without reliance on external aids.

A significant change in tonight’s debate format involves the handling of candidates’ microphones. In response to previous debates where candidates frequently talked over each other, CNN has decided to mute the microphones of the candidate who is not speaking. This rule is intended to allow each candidate to present their views without interruption, fostering a more organized and respectful debate environment.

Additionally, candidates will not be permitted to consult with their campaign teams during the debate’s two commercial breaks. This is a departure from past formats overseen by the Commission on Presidential Debates, where such consultations were allowed. This change ensures that the candidates remain focused and independently handle the pressure of the debate without external input.

In a coin toss to determine certain logistical aspects of the debate, Biden’s campaign won the right to choose between selecting the president’s podium or deciding the order of the debate’s closing statements. They opted for the podium on the right side of the stage. Consequently, Trump’s campaign chose the order of the closing statements, deciding to give Trump the final word of the night.

These new rules and changes mark a significant shift in how presidential debates are conducted. By emphasizing clear communication and minimizing interruptions, tonight’s debate promises to offer a more structured and informative dialogue between the two prominent candidates.

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