Will there be a mute button during the Biden-Trump presidential debate?

While many aspects of the 2024 Trump-Biden presidential race elicit déjà vu, organizers of this year's first debate between the two candidates are hoping to avoid the interruption-ridden clamor that marked the first 2020 face-off by muting mics between answers.

Debate host CNN is bringing back the muted microphone format first instituted by the Commission on Presidential Debates in 2020 after a raucous first debate between the two candidates on Sept. 29 in Cleveland. The event was largely characterized by a flurry of interruptions, particularly from then-President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and Biden's wife, Jill Biden after the first 2020 campaign debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020.
President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and Biden's wife, Jill Biden after the first 2020 campaign debate at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020.

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CNN said both candidates agreed to accept the network's list of rules for the debate, as outlined in letters sent to the Biden and Trump campaigns in May. These rules included a muted microphone, which will only be unmuted when it is a respective candidate's turn to speak.

It's a stark contrast from the Trump campaign's outcry over the muted mic rule in 2020. In a letter to the bipartisan CPD at the time of the format change, former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien strongly objected to the new rule. He called it "completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power," and said it would give "further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission, which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden."

Moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash speak to the audience before the start of the Republican candidates' presidential debate hosted by CNN at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa on January 10, 2024.
Moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash speak to the audience before the start of the Republican candidates' presidential debate hosted by CNN at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa on January 10, 2024.

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This time around, both campaigns have accepted the parameters with little fanfare. The second and final debate in 2020, when muted mics were used, was notably more tame than the first.

The moderators, CNN's Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, “will use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion,” according to the network.

Contributing: Joey Garrison, USA Today

Kathryn Palmer is an elections fellow for USA TODAY. Reach her at kapalmer@gannett.com and follow her on X @KathrynPlmr.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Trump-Biden 2024 presidential debate: Will mics be muted?