27 de noviembre de 2020
English - News

Trump, Biden to debate with new rules, including silenced mikes at times

By Susana Samhan

Nashville, Tennessee, Oct 21 (efe-epa).- After three weeks of doubts about whether a new electoral debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, would take place, everything is finally pointing to another in-person faceoff between the two men on Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee, with new rules such as temporarily silencing a candidate's microphones at times while his rival is speaking to avoid the chaos that marked their first encounter.

Nashville, the country music capital, is ready to host the second and final debate between the two men, although actually the upcoming contest was supposed to have been the third such encounter, at Belmont University from 8 pm to 9:30 pm on Thursday.

The main roadways in the city have been covered with signs announcing the debate and authorities have been performing Covid-19 tests since the weekend on journalists and volunteers who are arriving for the event.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, the non-partisan organizing entity for the debate, announced this week a new protocol so that the situation in the last face-to-face debate on Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Ohio, which was marked by numerous interruptions - most of them by Trump - prevented the candidates from discussing in detail issues of interest to many voters.

The biggest change this time around will be that one or the other candidate's microphone will be turned off during portions of the event.

The debate will be divided into six segments of 15 minutes each, and each beginning with uninterrupted two-minute introductory statements by both Trump and Biden.

It will be during those initial two minutes that the microphone of the non-speaking candidate will be silenced to guarantee that the listener does not interrupt the speaker, at least in a way that television viewers can hear.

During the remaining time in each segment, both mikes will be open, although the Commission has said that it hopes the candidates will be "respectful" of each other's time and not try to interrupt or dominate the conversation.

Despite this new element, political debate expert David Zarefsky, a professor at Northwestern University, told EFE that he has doubts that the mike-silencing tactic will moderate the tone of the encounter.

Saying that he thought it will be "more or less" the same tone as during the first debate, except during the two-minute remarks by each candidate, which theoretically will be uninterrupted. The subsequent discussion could be more chaotic, however, he said, adding that he was not sure whether Trump is able to contain himself and let Biden speak without jumping in.

Boston University communications Prof. Tammy Vigil also predicted that it is very probable that Trump will use the same strategy he employed in the first debate, even if his mike has been silenced, since Biden - standing just 10 feet away - presumably will still be able to hear whatever he might say to try and disrupt his concentration as he makes his remarks.

Trump does not seem capable of controlling himself, Vigil told EFE, adding that he will probably make comments to distract and interrupt Biden. Trump seems to be - in effect - stuck in interruption mode, she suggested, despite the fact that it clearly rubs people who are not part of his loyal base the wrong way. However, the president possibly considers his actions as motivators for his base, and thus he may redouble his efforts along those lines.

In Vigil's judgment, Biden should try to ignore Trump, but it's possible that he will respond to his provocations, especially if the president attacks his son Hunter, something that Trump knows since the former VP did lash out at Trump in their first debate in just that circumstance.

The encounter surely will be a challenge for the moderator, NBC journalist Kristen Welker, after the heavy load of criticism that Chris Wallace, the Fox News moderator of the Cleveland debate, has received for "allowing" the debate to spiral out of his control.

In the Nashville encounter, the issues that will be dealt with in the six time blocs will be the coronavirus pandemic, US families, national security, leadership, the climate crisis and racial issues.

In addition, wearing facemasks will be obligatory for everyone attending the debate - except the two candidates, at least while they are on the stage - and anyone refusing to do so will be expelled, in contrast to the Cleveland debate, where most of Trump's invited guests did not wear them, although Biden's did.

It was two days after the first debate that Trump announced that he had become infected with the coronavirus, along with first lady Melania Trump, although it is not precisely known how they picked it up, and it was in part due to this fact that the second debate - originally scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami - was cancelled.

Because of the chaos that reigned at the first debate, it was not clear who "won" the encounter. Zarefsky says that Biden triumphed because Trump did not respond to basic questions posed to him by Biden, such as challenging him to lay out his much-promised but never yet revealed alternative to the Affordable Care Act, whether there is systemic racism in US society and whether he would commit to accepting the result of the election if he loses.

However, Vigil says that it can also be said that Trump won because Biden was "unable" to defend his ideas in a clear and coherent way, and because virtually all the post-debate media coverage was on the interruptions rather than on the substance of the men's remarks on the issues.

The criticism of the first debate should have focused on Trump being unable to present evidence to back up his claims of his achievements in office and his inability to articulate his plans for a second term, she said. Instead, most of the news coverage spoke about his "childish" behavior and although - she added - that is certainly not a positive image for a president to portray, it is a little less bad than ensuring an emphasis on his "apparent complete incompetence."

Be that as it may, what is certain is that presidential debates generally don't seem to change many people's voting plans. Zarefsky says that the "vast majority" of voters have already decided how they're going to vote, although debates could possibly change a few voters' minds and in a tight race that could make the difference between defeat and victory.

Even so, he said that debates can have other effects, since they allow voters to get to know a little more about their favorite candidate such that they can support him or her in a more intelligent way and they could motivate the base to become more active.


Histórico de noticias
Iota deals another blow to Colombian archipelago's tourism amid pandemic

By Klarem Valoyes Gutierrez

Trump administration gives OK for Biden transition to formally begin

Washington, Nov 23 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Monday that he had given the green light to the government to formally allow the transition to...

Pandemic worsens gender violence against women in Ecuador

By Daniela Brik

Trump appeals case tossed in Pennsylvania, hoping to get it to Supreme Court

Washington, Nov 22 (efe-epa).- The reelection campaign of President Donald Trump on Sunday appealed a court decision to throw out his most important...

Iota homeless in Colombia: between exodus and nights in the open

By Klarem Valoyes Gutierrez

Colombian island of Providencia devastated by Iota

Bogotá, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- The Colombian island of Providencia, a 17-square-kilometer paradise in the Caribbean Sea, has been almost entirely devastated by...

Pentagon confirms large troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in January

Washington, Nov 17 (efe-epa).- US Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller on Tuesday officially announced a partial withdrawal of US troops from...

Out-of-control Covid puts Trump up against urgent need to admit his election defeat

By Jairo Mejia

Obama's memoirs, a critical and optimistic look at a divided US

By Lucia Leal

Biden predicts more Covid-19 deaths if Trump continues blocking transition

By Lucia Leal

Hurricane Iota storm surge floods Cartagena streets

(Update 1: Updates headline, lede, adds information about Colombian islands, minor edits)

Kids with cancer, women, reporters: The forgotten ones amid Covid in Mexico

By Miquel Muñoz

Dustin Johnson notches Masters win

Augusta, Georgia, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- US golfer Dustin Johnson, ranked No. 1 in the world, on Sunday for the first time won the Master's Tournament, notching...

Trump admits Biden's win, then takes it back, insisting on election fraud

By Susana Samhan

Still reeling from Eta, Central America now bracing for Hurricane Iota

Tegucigalpa, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- Honduras is on "red alert" for the arrival of Hurricane Iota, which should make landfall as either a very powerful Category...

Pompeo in Paris to meet with Macron on 1st leg of Middle East tour

Paris, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday is in Paris, with a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron scheduled for the first...

El Salvador to aid Guatemala with aircraft to access Eta-hit zones

San Salvador, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- El Salvador's defense minister, Rene Merino Monroy, reported Wednesday that his country will support Guatemala with two...

Thousands anxious about leaving their flooded homes in SE Mexico

By Mitzi Mayauel Fuentes Gomez

Biden widens popular vote margin as Trump tries to delegitimize his win

Washington, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- The state of Georgia announced Wednesday that it will perform a manual recount of all ballots cast in last week's...

Apple unveils new MacBook Pro, Air, mini models using its M1 chips

By Marc Arcas

US Supreme Court suggests it will not overturn Obamacare

Washington, Nov 10 (efe-epa).- The US Supreme Court on Tuesday gave indications that it will allow to stand at least the major part of the 2010 health care...

Biden: Successful transition despite Trump's "embarrassing" defiance

(Update: Releads, recasts)

Dow Jones rockets to intraday high on Pfizer vaccine news, Biden win

By Nora Quintanilla

Esper, ex-defense chief who refused Trump on using Army to quash protests

Washington, Nov 9 (efe-epa).- US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was summarily fired on Monday by Donald Trump, will be remembered for having opposed the...