The Commission on Presidential Debates says it will soon adopt changes to its format to avoid a repeat of the disjointed first meeting between President Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden.
The commission said Wednesday the 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 Commission on Presidential Debates sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate. 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 will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly,” the CPD said in a statement.
“The Commission is grateful to 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 read.
Moderator Chris Wallace struggled during the 90-minute debate in Cleveland to try to maintain control of the conversation amid frequent interruptions.
Even before the debate was over, there was talk about whether moderators should have the authority to cut off the microphone of one candidate while the other is talking. That was one possibility being discussed by the CPD, according to a person familiar with the deliberations who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Wallace tried to ask pointed questions to both men.
He effectively asked Trump three times whether he accepted climate change, while also asking Biden whether his proposals to help the environment would hurt the economy. He asked Trump why his administration sought to end racial sensitivity training in government, and questioned Biden about whether he should be using his influence to stop violence in a city like Portland, Oregon.
He would occasionally cut short answers or discussions that had a chance of being productive in a seeming bid to end the bickering and move on.
Wallace said before the debate that he would not take on a role of fact-checker and held to that. “It's been an interesting hour and a half,” he said at the end.
Wallace is the only presidential debate moderator this cycle with prior experience, after receiving praise for handling the final Clinton-Trump debate in 2016. The other two moderators are Steve Scully of C-SPAN and Kristen Welker of NBC News.
The next presidential debate is a town hall format scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, and despite some suggestions to cancel the final two presidential debates, both campaigns have said they expected their candidates to attend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.