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Will the next presidential debates happen? Trump and Biden say they're showing up

Average viewers and political analysts alike are questioning the value of future debates after the first one devolved into interruptions and insults.
Both the Trump and Biden campaigns have committed to participating in the next presidential debates, despite widespread calls to cancel them due to the chaos that ensued during the first one.
Both the Trump and Biden campaigns have committed to participating in the next presidential debates, despite widespread calls to cancel them due to the chaos that ensued during the first one.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

After a debate packed with interruptions, rule violations and personal attacks lobbed by both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, many Americans are wondering whether the next two presidential debates should be held ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Among them are MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, who pled in a Cosmopolitan column for "no more debates this election cycle," as well as Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan, who also wrote that the Commission on Presidential Debates "should seriously consider" calling them off. CNN's Wolf Blitzer called Tuesday's debate "the most chaotic" one he'd ever witnessed, adding that he "wouldn't be surprised if this is the last presidential debate" in 2020.

But a spokesperson for the former vice president committed him to round two.

"Joe Biden's going to show up. He's going to continue speaking directly to the American people," Kate Bedingfield, the communications director for Biden's campaign, told reporters after the debate. "(Biden) expressed regret that the president of the United States chooses to conduct himself this way on the national stage and on the international stage. But in terms of whether we are committing to both (debates), we are."

#MutetheMic was trending on Twitter Tuesday night as viewers criticized the candidates, mainly the president, for interrupting during their opponent's allotted two minutes per question. Bedingfield commented to reporters that conversations with the debate commission about rules and formatting "are always ongoing" and "a continuing process as we move through these debates."

The next presidential debate, set for Oct. 15 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, will be in a town-hall format with undecided voters posing questions.

Biden's senior adviser Symone Sanders said Wednesday on MSNBC that Biden will attend to "take questions from voters across the state of Florida about the most pressing issues facing them" and "show you exactly what you can get" after Nov. 3 if elected.

The Trump campaign's director of communications, Tim Murtaugh, told NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander in a statement that the president will appear in the next debate as well.

"President Trump controlled the entire conversation in the first debate and kept Joe Biden on his heels, looking weak and unable to defend his 47 years of failure in Washington," he said via email. "Of course we are enthusiastic about the upcoming debates and look forward to them."

The first debate was widely characterized as a disaster by pundits and politicians from both sides of the aisle. Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, said Wednesday on TODAY that it was "not worthy of the worst sort of debate you'd see on cable news.

"Joe Biden did his share of interrupting, but it was Donald Trump who was obviously the main offender."

NBC News political analyst and former Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill added that she was "shocked and saddened" by Tuesday night's event.

"One candidate came to debate. The other came to take a meat cleaver to one of our most cherished traditions in this country," she said. "They may have two more debates. The question is, will anybody watch them?"

"I think there will be (more debates)," Lowry added. "It looks as though the Biden people are calculating. One, that the next debate's a town-hall format so it'll be harder for this kind of meltdown to happen, and two, it's a big national stage so why not use it?"

Asked about the frequency of the candidates speaking over one another, Lowry called that type of crosstalk "productive to no one," while McCaskill wondered if the debates commission will ultimately decide on a kill button.

On Wednesday afternoon, the debates commission announced that it will consider changing formatting of future debates but did not specify how.

"The Commission on Presidential Debates sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate," the CPD said in a statement. "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 CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.

"The Commission is grateful to Chris Wallace 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."