No interruptions, please: Rules for second Democratic debate

The crackdown comes after New Yorkers Bill de Blasio and Kirsten Gillibrand, among others, cut off rival candidates in the first debate.
Image: CNN debate rule
The second Democratic debate, hosted by CNN, is taking place over two nights in Detroit with 10 candidates on stage each night.Adrian Lam / NBC News

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Dareh Gregorian

The host of the second Democratic primary debate is trying to ensure there's no "food fight" in Detroit.

A candidate "who consistently interrupts" on Tuesday and Wednesday nights will be penalized by having his or her time reduced, CNN announced this month.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

The rule came after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio successfully nudged himself into getting more screen time last month during the first night of the NBC-hosted debate in Miami, leading several candidates, most notably Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, to try doing the same thing on the second night of the debate.

On Night 2, the jumping-in got so out of hand that Sen. Kamala Harris of California wound up chiding her fellow candidates. "Hey guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we're going to put food on their table," Harris said, ending one free-for-all.

CNN did not say how much candidates' time will be reduced if the rule is violated. There were no penalties issued on Tuesday night, but the moderators frequently had to forcefully warn the candidates that their time was up.

Candidates at the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit have one minute to answer questions posed to them by the moderators, and 30 seconds for responses and rebuttals. Contenders who are attacked by name by other candidates will have 30 seconds to respond to the attack, the network said.

Campaign representatives have also been told there will be no "lightning round"-type questions requiring a show of hands or one word responses.

The debate is being moderated by Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper. Each of the 10 candidates are allowed to make brief opening and closing statements, the network said.

At the first debate, which was hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, candidates were only allowed to make closing statements.