Debate rules released

CNN has released the rules that have been agreed to by the camps of Joe Biden and serial sex abuser and convicted felon Donald Trump (SSACFT) for the first debate on June 27th.

  • No opening statements.
  • Biden and Trump will each have two minutes to answer questions — followed by one-minute rebuttals and responses to the rebuttals.
  • Red lights visible to the candidates will flash when they have five seconds left, and turn solid red when time has expired.
  • Each man’s microphone will be muted when it is not his turn to speak.
  • They will be barred from huddling with advisers while off the air.
  • The candidates will appear without a live audience and at lecterns determined by a coin flip.

It looks like a total capitulation by SSACFT. I am sure that he would have liked to have an audience. The cutting off of microphones when their time is up is also something that he would not have wanted since he likes to filibuster and interrupt. Of course, he might still try to do that even without the benefit of his microphone being on.

As with most of these presidential ‘debates’, we should not expect anything really substantive in terms of policies. What most people will be looking for is to see which of the two candidates seems more cognitively alert.

What Biden should prepare for is how to deal with the firehose of lies and nonsense that SSACFT will spew. Should he try to fact check them in real time? That would be futile. Maybe he should say at the beginning that SSACFT is a proven liar and to ridicule him whenever he lies, by laughing at him and saying something like “There he goes again”, a line that worked well for Ronald Reagan in one of his debates.


  1. JM says

    Trump is already setting low expectations for the debate. So low they are negative, saying he might intentionally lose the first debate. The rational being that if Trump crushes Biden the Democrats might replace Biden with somebody who has a better chance of winning.
    Originally I thought Trump would find an excuse to back out at the last minute but now that Trump is falling behind he might feel he has to risk it. If they do happen CNN had better carry through with their part and cut Trump off when his time is up.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    I have no intention to watch this mess. It is more satisfactory to watch the drawn-out mass seppuku by the British tory party- they have placed themselves in a situation where no amount of lying or bluster will get them out of trouble.
    I wonder if SSACFT will have time to start go off on one of his meandering nonsense digressions. In *that* case I will break my promise and check an excerpt of his performance. Best oucome: his assistants facepalm while on air, like Kelly did when SSACFT spoke at UN.

  3. says

    How about a requirement that they have to stand behind their lecterns? I remember Trump creepily stalking around behind Hilary Clinton in their debate, muttering and rolling his eyes and making frequent outbursts.

  4. larpar says

    New rule, no convicted felons. (Ha, who am I kidding?)
    Trump will lie and act like a buffoon. MAGAts will love it.
    CNN won’t fact check in the name of impartiality.
    Biden will muddle through it.

  5. flex says

    One rule which was left off that list is that candidates cannot bring pre-written notes.
    No cheat sheets with details about topics. They will be given a pen, a pad of paper, and a water bottle.

    This is likely to hurt Biden more than Trump as Trump lies like a rug even if he has notes in front of him.

  6. kenny256 says

    By his natural tendency the convicted felon will do whatever he is told is “Not Allowed” by the rules.

    If he is told not to put beans in his nose, then he will find beans and shove them up his nose.

  7. Tethys says

    If this actually happens it will be a three ring circus.
    I fully expect the convicted felon to develop severe food poisoning or similar disease hours before the debate.

    I can’t imagine any debate that isn’t going to become a buffoon accusing Biden of witch-hunts because of his legal losses, looming around behind Biden in an attempt to dominate the room, and going off on stream of consciousness tangents about electrocution and sharks.

  8. Robbo says

    after I read the rules I immediately thought staying behind the lectern should be a rule, and then I read PZ suggested it too.

    If trump can’t lie and bluster with the microphone off, he surely would wander around to bully physically like he did to Clinton.

  9. Ridana says

    Without an audience, I’m not so sure trump will use the wandering around and looming tactic unless he charges Biden’s podium when his own mic is cut off. Not staying at the podium just plays differently without an audience to mug for, and not in a way that helps him.

  10. kenbakermn says

    I would love to hear Biden say something like: “By the way, I don’t mind when he calls me Sleepy Joe. For someone with an intellect as limited as his, calling people silly names is about all he has. I wouldn’t want to take that away from him. It would be like taking away an old dog’s only bone.”

  11. marner says


    It would be like taking away an old dog’s only bone.

    Not sure that Biden should be bringing up dogs.

  12. John Morales says

    Me, the main significance of the debate will be to see whether or not those rules are enforced, or merely aspirational.

    Obviously, the spirit in which they are written means that if they are followed merely to the letter, they will embody the spirit. 😉

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