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Spotlight: Organizers mull change to format after chaotic Trump-Biden debate

N.C.N. Limited logo N.C.N. Limited 01/10/2020 Sun Ding,Xiong Maoling
Donald Trump, Joe Biden are posing for a picture © Provided by N.C.N. Limited

Photo taken in Arlington, Virginia, the United States on Sept. 29, 2020 shows C-SPAN 2 live stream of U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden speaking during their first debate in the 2020 presidential race. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

"Clearly, the lines are drawn. I don't think either candidate took votes from the other. I have no idea how an undecided voter might react," Tom Waters, a soybean and corn farmer in Orrick, Missouri, tells Xinhua.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- After a messy face-off between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden late Tuesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is mulling changes for the next two 2020 presidential debates.

"Last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues," the CPD said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that it "will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly."

The nonpartisan body also said it is grateful to moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace "for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night's debate and intends to ensure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for the remaining debates."

The statement came shortly after contentious exchanges and personal attacks between Trump and Biden overshadowed what was meant to be a policy debate, which drew wide criticisms of being messy and unpresidential.

"That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck," CNN anchor and correspondent Jake Tapper commented Tuesday night. "That was the worst debate I've ever seen. It wasn't even a debate."

The first debate was designed to fall into six 15-minute segments, each on major topics selected by Wallace. After the moderator opened each segment with a question, each candidate was supposed to have two minutes to respond before exchanging with the other candidate.

Donald Trump, Joe Biden are posing for a picture © Provided by N.C.N. Limited

Photo taken in Arlington, Virginia, the United States, on Sept. 29, 2020 shows C-SPAN 2 live stream of U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, speaking during their first debate in the 2020 presidential race. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

Trump, however, interrupted Biden on nearly every topic he was talking about and also claimed that the Democrat is not intelligent. Meanwhile, the former U.S. vice president hit back by calling his opponent a "liar" and a "clown" and told him to "shut up."

"Gentlemen! I hate to raise my voice," Wallace, who had to frequently intervene, said at one point. "I think that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions."

"I'm just sad with the way last night turned out," Wallace later said in an interview with The New York Times.

"I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did," he said. "I guess I didn't realize -- and there was no way you could, hindsight being 20/20 -- that this was going to be the president's strategy, not just for the beginning of the debate but the entire debate."

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday before leaving for campaign events in Minnesota, Trump said he thought "the debate last night was great" despite several instant polls showing most viewers thinking Biden did better.

"We got tremendous reviews on it," the president said. "I thought it was a great evening. It was an exciting evening. I see the ratings were very high ... By every measure, we won the debate easily last night. I think he was very weak."

During a stop on a campaign train tour of northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Biden, who is leading Trump in national and battleground state polls, accused the Republican of trying "everything to distract, everything possible."

"I just hope there's a way in which the debate commission can control the ability of us to answer the question without interruptions," he said.

a flat screen tv sitting on top of a laptop computer © Provided by N.C.N. Limited

Photo taken in Arlington, Virginia, the United States on Sept. 29, 2020 shows C-SPAN 2 live stream of U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden (R) attending their first debate in the 2020 presidential race. (Xinhua/Liu Jie)

An estimated 73.1 million people tuned in to watch the first Trump-Biden debate on Tuesday night, according to viewership data released by measurement company Nielsen.

A CBS News poll on Tuesday showed that the vast majority of likely voters planning to watch the debate had already decided on their candidate and were mostly watching to see how that candidate did.

"Clearly, the lines are drawn. I don't think either candidate took votes from the other. I have no idea how an undecided voter might react," Tom Waters, a soybean and corn farmer in Orrick, Missouri, told Xinhua. "It is hard to understand how our politicians can expect the people of the country to have much respect for them when they have no respect for each other. The best candidates for the job would never run under today's political environment."

Trump and Biden will have two more debates in October leading up to Election Day. Both campaigners have committed to attending them.

Next week, there will be a vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Biden's running mate, U.S. Senator from California Kamala Harris. 

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