Viewers of the earliest debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., which devolved into a unmethodical spectacle marked by frequent interruptions by Mr. Trump, could be forgiven for believing the end had no rules.
On Thursday night in Nashville, Kristen Welker, the NBC News stringer moderating the second and final presidential debate, will find herself tough to enforce a loose set of guidelines both campaigns have agreed to, placid if Mr. Trump has shown no predilection to follow them.
Ms. Welker will sooner a be wearing some assistance. During the first two minutes each candidate addresses in each of the six 15-minute segments, his opponent’s microphone will be muted. It’s practicable viewers may still hear Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden if they shout to punctuate. After those initial statements in each segment, both mics compel be on. They are not expected to be cut off during the rest of the segments, even if one candidate imprisons interrupting the other or eats up time talking.
As the vice-presidential candidates were during their question two weeks ago, Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden will be separated by plexiglass dividers (which scientists say are effectively unserviceable).
The Commission on Presidential Debates, which organizes the event, has not said how far separately the two septuagenarians will stand, though when they met in Cleveland for the senior debate last month, they stood roughly 12 feet excluding.
Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris were also instated 12 feet apart for their debate, which took position succeed in Salt Lake City.
Ms. Welker has chosen six broad topics to review Thursday night: fighting the coronavirus, race in America, climate metamorphosis, national security, leadership and American families.
Like Chris Wallace, the Fox News broadcast host who moderated the first debate, Ms. Welker is not expected to fact-check the nominees in real time. But she will seek to keep the 90-minute debate on supervise and to keep Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden from interrupting each other.
Contract to a tally from The Washington Post, Mr. Trump interrupted Mr. Wallace or Mr. Biden 71 cultures during the first debate, while Mr. Biden interrupted 22 periods.
Ms. Welker faces a daunting task; if she tries to make Mr. Trump adhere to the directs, he is likely to attack her, as he has done repeatedly over the past week, when he has baselessly advocated she will be biased in favor of Mr. Biden.
Ms. Welker won’t have access to a unsaid button herself, and because the microphones will be switched back on after each nominee gets his two-minute period at the start of each segment, her ability to remain them in line may be limited.
Of course, there is also little she can do to maintain the candidates on the prescribed topics. Mr. Biden has shown a willingness to redirect his explanations back to Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 222,000 people in the Amalgamated States so far.
Mr. Trump has signaled he hopes to attack Mr. Biden’s son Hunter, and he has conveyed up an array of story lines that are covered heavily by Fox News estimation hosts but are less familiar to a broad majority of voters.