Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that muting a non-speaking candidate’s microphone during portions of Thursday’s debate is a necessary move after what took place during the first debate in Cleveland.
“There’s no question that the first debate was a disappointment for everybody, I think particularly for the American people,” Fahrenkopf said on the "Situation Room" Tuesday night. “We as a commission knew we couldn’t change rules without the consent of both [campaigns] but saying to the candidates that what’s going to happen is when the moderator asks candidate number one to begin their two minutes to talk uninterrupted, the candidate’s mic will not be live. When those two minutes are up, it is then candidate B’s chance to talk.”
“We're not making a new rule, we’re just enforcing the rule that both candidates agreed to in the first place, he added.
Fahrenkopf also said that both candidates will be tested for Covid-19 prior to Thursday’s debate in Nashville, and that their guests must wear masks throughout the event.
“The testing will be done, HCA, which has been designated to be the health group in Nashville, I think it’s Health Corporation of America, designated by the Cleveland Clinic, will be meeting with and working with the doctors for the White House and for former Vice President Biden,” Fahrenkopf said. “In Cleveland, we had some of the first family remove their masks and not wear the masks, both candidates have now agreed, their campaigns, that everyone will leave their masks on for the whole — if the first family is there, I’m not sure at this point in time — and will not take their masks off.”
“Both candidates have committed that their guests will wear their masks throughout.”