Morry Gash/Getty Images President Donald Trump (left) and former Vice President Joe Biden at their debate, on Sept. 29 in Cleveland.
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will each have their microphones muted during the other's two-minutes response at the start of each segment at the final debate between them.
Their mics will be un-muted, however, as the candidates continue the discussion on each topic — leaving the door open to at least some of the chaos of the first debate, when the president repeatedly interrupted Biden and moderator Chris Wallace some 145 times (by one count).
In a statement released Monday, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the unusual changes for Thursday and acknowledged that both campaigns might be rankled but that "they are in the interest of the American people."
"Under the agreed upon debate rules, each candidate is to have two minutes of uninterrupted time to make remarks at the beginning of each 15 minute segment of the debate," the statement read. "These remarks are to be followed by a period of open discussion. Both campaigns this week again reaffirmed their agreement to the two-minute, uninterrupted rule."
“We realize, after discussions with both campaigns, that neither campaign may be totally satisfied with the measures announced today," the statement continued. "One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough. We are comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and that they are in the interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held.”
Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock; Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) and President Donald Trump
Following the announcement, Trump, 74, told reporters that he still planned to participate — after backing out of the second debate when its format changed — but added that he thought the announcement was "very unfair."
The commission acknowledged the problems in the first debate in its Monday statement, which expressed an expectation that the candidates "be respectful of each other's time, which will advance civil discourse for the benefit of the viewing public."
After Trump tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the commission announced the candidates' second debate would be conducted remotely, out of health concerns.
Trump ultimately balked at that idea, telling Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo, "I'm not going to waste my time at a virtual debate."
After the second, remote debate was canceled, both he and Biden, 77, ultimately ended up appearing at dueling town hall events.
The final debate will be held Thursday (9 p.m. ET) across broadcast and online.