Tonight at 9:00 p.m., President Donald Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and the already infamous mute button will go head-to-head for the final time before Election Day.
The Thursday night showdown from Belmont University in Nashville comes after the Commission on Presidential Debates canceled a town hall event after Trump, who had suffered a coronavirus infection earlier in the month, announced he would not participate in a virtual contest. Instead, Trump and Biden participated in dueling solo town halls on different networks Oct. 15.
In the aftermath of the first debate, which included numerous interruptions from both Trump and Biden, the commission decided to implement something it has never used before: a mute button. Each candidate’s microphone will be muted Thursday night during their respective competitor’s initial 2-minute responses to topic prompts from the moderator, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, whom Trump has already rebuked as “terrible” and “totally partisan.”
You can watch the entire 90-minute debate unfold here, via CBN News:
The topics for the final presidential debate are fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership.
In the lead-up to the final forum between the two men, Trump pushed for the commission to focus more on foreign policy. The president’s re-election campaign manager, Bill Stepien, penned a letter Monday in which he objected to the topics announced by Welker last week. He pointed to the lack of focus on foreign policy, arguing it has been a “long-standing custom” to discuss the topic during the last presidential debate before the election.
“[W]e had expected that foreign policy would be the central focus of the October 22 debate,” he wrote to the commission. “We urge you to recalibrate the topics and return to subjects which had already been confirmed.”
Stepien also accused Biden of being “desperate to avoid conversations about his own foreign policy record,” suggesting the commission decided to steer away from the issue in order to “insulate Biden from his own history.”
“The commission’s pro-Biden antics have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco and it is little wonder why the public has lost faith in its objectivity,” he added.
Welker, for her part, will make history Thursday night as only the second black woman in American history to moderate a presidential debate. The first was ABC News’ Carole Simpson during the 1992 race between President George H.W. Bush, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, and business magnate Ross Perot.