Commission to Change Format After Chaotic First Debate

President Donald Trump gestures while speaking during a news conference at the White House Sunday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(CN) — Following a chaotic debate with shouting and frequent interruptions, the presidential debate commission announced Wednesday it would make changes to the format of the remaining debates.

Tuesday night’s presidential debate in Cleveland, the first of the election season, was often a disjointed and confusing event where President Donald Trump frequently talked over former Vice President Joe Biden and debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News.

At one point, Trump interrupted Biden after he was asked a question, prompting Biden to remark, “Will you shut up, man?”

In a statement on Wednesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates said it would make changes to the format, but did not specify what those would be.

“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 statement said.

A number of changes are being considered, according to media reports, including new speaking time limits and giving the moderator the ability to cut off microphones. The commission was set up in 1987 as a bipartisan nonprofit meant to coordinate television debates.

Wallace struggled to rein in the president, who interrupted him and Biden 71 times during the 90-minute debate. While Wallace faced criticism online for his performance, the commission said it was “grateful” to him “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.”

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement Wednesday the commission was “only doing this because their guy got pummeled last night. President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs.”

Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager for Biden, said Wednesday that the former vice president was eager to attend the next debate, a town-hall meeting, and he’d “be focused on answering questions from the voters there, under whatever set of rules the commission develops to try to contain Donald Trump’s behavior.

The town-hall debate will take place in Miami on Oct. 15 and will be moderated by Steve Scully, political editor at C-SPAN.

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