Nashville, TENN – Last night’s debate is being described by people across the spectrum of media as “an actual debate”. The bar had been set so low from the first debate that both candidates could just stand and say nothing and it would have been an improvement.
Donald Trump’s goal in this debate was to be able to make up for all the ground he has lost leading up to the Nov. 3 election. With roughly 50 million Americans who have already early voted and Joe Biden leading in both national and swing state polls, Trump needed a dramatic moment to convince the remaining voters he deserves another four years.
It seemed the President’s plan was to abandon much of his abrasive style and allow his opponent his time to speak. On the surface this might have been a winning strategy, but as always Trump continued his normal exaggerations and falsehoods. One of his major missteps is a focus on obscure issues that only right wing news watchers seem to care about.
For example his continued attack on Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings overseas backfired when Biden turned to the camera and said: “It’s not about his family or my family. It’s about your family.” Biden also was able to pivot the conversation by bringing up Trump’s recently disclosed Chinese bank account and his lack of producing his US Tax returns.
Trumps attempt at seeming Presidential was not something he could hold onto the entire debate. By the time race came up as an issue of debate Trump claimed that only Abraham Lincoln had did more for black people and that he was the least racist person in the room. Trump’s true feeling about African American’s was revealed when he somehow tried to describe Black Lives Matter as a violent organization.
Biden did not do a perfect job in this debate, but he was also able to refrain from interruptions and allowed Trump his time to speak. Giving himself time to think, Biden was able to describe much of his plans for the future of America. His strongest moments were being on the offensive of the poor job Trump has done with handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Something that Trump said, “It’s not my fault that it came here.”
Overall the President could have used this as an opportunity to take responsibility for his mistakes and explain what his plans are in the next administration. There is strength in admitting to one’s errors. Biden seemed more human than ever when he declared that the signing of the 90’s crime bill was a mistake.
As the debate ended it was clear that both men were intentional on using this debate to bring across their message. Trump used his remaining time to be negative while the former Vice President ended with a positive message of hope that will resonate with voters as we approach election day.
Sometimes it takes more than decorum but actual substance and character to win a debate.