Brian W. Steel, a spokesman for CNBC, said the network discussed the format of the debate, which originally would not allow opening statements, with the participating campaigns Wednesday. By Friday morning, Trump announced via Twitter that CNBC had acceded to the flamboyant businessman's demand that the debate be capped at two hours.
"Our goal is to host the most substantive debate possible," Steel said in a written statement Thursday. "Our practice in the past has been to forego opening statements to allow more time to address the critical issues that matter most to the American people. We started a dialogue yesterday with all of the campaigns involved and we will certainly take the candidates’ views on the format into consideration as we finalize the debate structure."
Trump complained that the second Republican debate, on Sept. 16 in California, was far too long at three hours, and he has accused the host of that debate, CNN, of needlessly lengthening the debate to make more money off advertising, which was selling at a much higher rate than usual. He also has complained about the moderators of the first two debates, engaging in a nasty, weeks-long spat with Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly and accusing CNN's moderators of asking too many questions that prompted his rivals to attack him.
CNN also reported Friday morning that the host organization had consented to including opening and closing statements.
This story has been updated.
Jose A. DelReal contributed to this report.