'Your campaigns agreed to the rules': Moderator Susan Page shuts down cross-talk during vice presidential debate

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Moderator Susan Page made her position clear on Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris repeatedly interrupting each other about an hour into the first and only vice presidential debate.

Page, the Washington bureau chief for USA Today, cut off Pence and Harris during a back-and-forth between the two about national security. Page’s performance as moderator followed the first presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden, which was widely panned as chaotic and out of control.

“This is such an important issue, but we have other important issues as well, and I want to make sure we have a chance to talk about,” Page said, before Pence interjected.

“I really have to respond to that,” Pence said about remarks Harris had just delivered.

Moderator Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, explains the rules to Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., during the vice presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

(Patrick Semansky/AP)

“Fifteen seconds, because we are trying to keep … I’m sorry, vice president, but you’ve had more time than she’s had so far,” Page said.

“The slanders against President Donald Trump regarding the men and women of our armed forces are absurd. My son is a captain in the United States Marine Corps. My son-in-law is deployed in the United States Navy. I can assure all of you, the sons and daughters serving in our military, President Donald Trump not only respects but reveres all of those who serve in our armed forces,” Pence said in response to the reports that Trump called dead soldiers “losers.”

Cross-talk ensued before Page cut in: “Excuse me. I did not create the rules for tonight, your campaigns agreed to the rules for tonight’s debate with the Commission on Presidential Debates. I’m here to enforce them, which involves moving from one topic to another, giving roughly equal time to both of you, which is what I’m trying very hard to do.”

Early on in the debate, Page tried to rein in some exchanges but largely allowed the candidates to finish their points.

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