US election 2020: Trump and Biden feud over debate matters

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  • US election 2020

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US President Donald Trump and his White House challenger Joe Biden argue over plans for their final televised debate.

The Republican president’s campaign accused Thursday’s showdown organizers of helping the Democrat by omitting foreign policy as an issue.

The Biden camp replied that Mr Trump was trying to avoid questions about his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two weeks before the election, Mr Biden has an overwhelming lead in opinion polls nationwide.

However, it has a smaller head start in the few major US states that will ultimately determine the outcome.

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What did the Trump campaign say?

On Monday, the President’s camp sent a letter to the Presidential Debate Commission requesting that the themes be adjusted for the final primetime duel that Thursday.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in the letter that the campaigns had already agreed that foreign policy would be the focus of the third debate.

The topics were announced last week by presenter and NBC news correspondent Kristen Welker: American families, racing in America, climate change, national security and leadership.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionMr Trump has held major campaign events

During a Monday afternoon rally in Prescott, Arizona, Trump described Ms. Welker as a “radical Democrat” and said she was “no good”.

Mr Stepien accused Mr Biden of “being desperate to avoid talking about his own foreign policy records” and of trying the Commission to “isolate Biden from his own history”.

“The Commission’s pro-biden antics have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco, and it’s no wonder why the public has lost faith in its objectivity,” he wrote.

He also accused Mr Biden of avoiding questions about reports of alleged emails from his son Hunter and alleged conflicts of interest.

How did the Biden campaign react?

The Democratic camp hit back that it was, in fact, Mr Trump trying to answer questions.

“The campaigns and the commission agreed months ago that the debate moderator would select the topics,” said national press secretary TJ Ducklo.

Image rightsGetty Images

“The Trump campaign is now lying about it because Donald Trump is afraid to ask more questions about his disastrous Covid response.

“As usual, the president is more concerned with the rules of debate than with a nation in crisis getting the help it needs.”

What are the rules of debate?

After public criticism of the handling of the first debate, the Commission adopted a new rule to mute microphones at the closing event.

The 90-minute debate structure is broken down into 15-minute sections. At the beginning of each new topic, each candidate has two minutes of uninterrupted time – during which his opponent’s microphone is switched off.

The rest of the time will be an open discussion – and the microphones will not be muted.

In a statement announcing the decision, the Presidential Debate Commission said it was “appropriate to take action to promote compliance with agreed rules”.

The commission found that “one [campaign] Perhaps they think they are going too far and one might think that they are not going far enough “but that these measures strike the right balance in the public interest.

What happened to the last two debates?

The Trump campaign leader noted Monday that the moderator of the canceled second debate on October 15, Steve Scully, had been suspended after tweeting a prominent Trump critic and then lying about his account being hacked.

Mr. Stepien also accused the host of the first debate, Chris Wallace of Fox News, of acting as the “third fighter” against Mr. Trump.

The first Trump-Biden duel on September 29 sparked an exchange of insults, with the president interrupting the debate much more often than his challenger, according to US media statistics.

The second debate was cut short after Mr Trump refused to attend. The commission had decided that it would have to take place with the candidates in different locations because the president had tested positive for coronavirus.

Mr Trump dismissed the idea as a waste of time. He caught coronavirus in early October but says he has since made a full recovery.

How does the early voting work?

Almost 30 million early voters have already cast their votes, compared to just six million before the last presidential election in 2016.

Experts say the pandemic caused many to cast their votes early to avoid overcrowding at polling stations on November 3rd, despite long queues for some early voters.

On Monday, the Republicans were awarded defeat by the US Supreme Court for refusing to open a postal ballot case in the critical swing-voting state of Pennsylvania.

Republicans had argued that only ballots received on election day should be counted and contested a decision by the state Supreme Court to count late ballots.

After the American Supreme Court refused to hear the case, all ballots received within three days of November 3rd will be counted, even if they don’t have a unique postmark.

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberal judges of the court in this case.

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