The US Commission on Presidential debates has again revised its rules for the upcoming final live debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic Party challenger Joe Biden.
Earlier this week the Commission announced it would change its rules for the second and last debate this week between Mr Trump and former vice-president Biden by enabling their microphones to be shut off by the moderator as a precaution against interruptions.
The move followed the chaotic first debate on 29 September in which Mr Trump in particular persistently interrupted Mr Biden’s answers and both exchanged a multitude of insults.
This week’s debate was to be the third in a series leading up to the 3 November election. But it became the second and expected last encounter between the two men when the debate scheduled for 15 October was cancelled after Mr Trump decided against participating in what was to have been a virtual online debate because of concerns over COVID-19 contamination.
The final debate is expected to be staged at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday 22 October from 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm (US central time). It will be moderated by NBC News journalist Kristen Welker.
Ms Welker said she was comfortable with the new rule that allowed her to shut off the microphone of Mr Trump or Mr Biden for two minutes whenever a candidate was responding to the other’s answer to a question.
But she said an additional new rule imposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates had caused extra work for her in the lead-up to the Thursday’s event.
“The Commission has decided that in addition to the ability to mute microphones, I will also have the ability to fire a tranquillising dart at either candidate if they still persist in talking over their opponent,” she said.
“I am assured that the low-grade anaesthetic in the tip of each dart will not cause lasting harm to either Mr Trump or Mr Biden, but will just paralyse their vocal chords for up to a minute.
“So it may be I’ll need to shoot more than one at a time into either man if they break the rules.
“I am not all that familiar with firearms so to accommodate the additional new rule I’ve been spending a lot of time at a Nashville firing range (main picture) to make sure I can hit my target.
“I’m advised to go for a body shot – to aim for the middle of the torso – above the lectern obviously.
“That way the dart is unlikely to miss and hit one of the floor crew.
“It also means I’ll have no worries about not hitting the President because – if I can take my independent moderator’s hat off for a moment – he’s such a big fat flabby slab of puffy pale gingery flesh that I’ll be totally embarrassed if I did miss him,” Ms Welker said.