NASHVILLE, Tenn. — With Election Day just 12 days away, President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, square off in Nashville Thursday night.
It's their second and final in-person debate. A third (scheduled for last week) was cancelled after Trump objected to a virtual format announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates. It was proposed after the president tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized.
Drew Stewart, the Director of Speech and Debate at Marian University, said he expects tonight's showdown "is really going to be about image restoration and providing a sense of stability to voters."
The first debate was roundly criticized after it quickly turned into a free-for-all, with moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News unable to stop repeated interruptions, most often by the president.
Under a new rule in place, Trump and Biden will have their mics muted during parts of the debate, such as when their opponent is giving his opening statement.
Stewart calls that a game changer, but not so much in the moment when it happens.
"The reaction afterward, in both how the person responds to their mic being muted and if other people draw attention to the fact that the mic had to be muted...That discourse might be the most interesting thing that comes out of the rule," Stewart said.
He said the rule should allow the candidates to focus more on issues rather than sparring. Stewart hopes it's voters who win from Thursday night's debate.
"We will win when we get clarity and accuracy of information from both sides as well as a sense of why it's important to vote for the candidate based on their values," he said, and not because they're simply attacking their opponent.