By Ricky Browne
The first debate was a doozy, and the second debate didn’t happen. But tonight’s rumble in the jungle will be the third and last Presidential debate before the US elections on November 3 — and a lot is riding on it.
This debate to take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, will have six segments — rounds if you will — looking at the areas of :
- Fighting Covid-19
- American Families
- Race in America
- Climate Change
- National Security
Biden should feel comfortable in all of them. Trump, in contrast, will have to battle negative public perception on many of them, especially fighting COVID-19, the issue of race and the matter of climate change. Unfortunately, as the United States appears to become more insular, the issue of foreign relations is not being addressed as a stand-alone segment.
Kristen Welker from NBC will be the moderator for tonight’s debate. Whether she will be able to keep the debate on track remains to be seen. What is known is that she has already been slammed by Trump, who says she is terrible. “She is totally partisan. Her father and mother are big supporters of Joe Biden. They’re supporters of the Democrat Party” he said on Tuesday. That doesn’t really set the stage for a non-confrontational debate.
Even without that, this debate could well be even more intense than the first, as the gap between the two contenders — both in their 70s — appears to be extremely wide.
US President Donald Trump is behind in the polls, as he was in the last election, but this time even more so. He even appears to be in danger of losing Texas, which has been a reliably Republican-leaning state since 1976.
Former US Vice President Joe Biden, the older of the two at 77 years old, has the most to lose from this debate. He has so far managed to win the Democratic nomination and participate in the election campaign with very little effort on anything much. Campaigning has been kept to a minimum thanks to the coronavirus, so he has been able to just float along to what seems like many to be his inevitable win.
Biden has said very little about his platform, or what he intends to do as president, except to try and build on his brand of being a nice guy with better manners and more empathy than the current president.
He doesn’t want to get caught too much in the details, because to do so would require either upsetting the far left of his party on the one hand, or the moderates in the middle of the political spectrum whose votes he needs to win. Will he stack the Supreme Court with more liberal judges, now that the balance is in the conservatives favour? No one knows. Is he in favour of fracking? No one really knows. How will he deal differently with the coronavirus pandemic? Not a clue.
Meanwhile, Trump is trying to go for the underbelly, not tackling Biden much on his platform — or forcing him to speak to his platform — but rather concentrating on belittling his character.
The Hunter Biden emails which seem to point to Joe Biden knowing all about his son’s overseas business dealings and even potentially helping him with them, is a last ditch effort to overturn Biden’s apparent popularity, while strengthening Trump’s base. It follows the same playbook that proved so successful in the last election when the question of Clinton’s missing emails came to the fore.
But the story is not getting the same traction this time around because: one – Biden is more popular than Clinton ever was and two – Twitter and Facebook are blocking users from freely disseminating the story.
So look out for Trump to turn up the heat even higher than last time in his attack on Biden’s honesty and character. The Bidens are a crime family, Trump has already said, and make the Clintons look like they aren’t even trying. Trump is likely to say much worse on stage this time round. And if he can really unsettle Biden with some gimmick — similar to the last time when he brought several women who Bill Clinton had allegedly had sexual relations with to the debate — he will do so.
Trump will want to knock Biden off his carefully-prepared script.
But unlike the first debate, the constant interruptions that took place will be more limited this time, thanks to the decision to let the moderator mute the mic.
In the last debate Biden told the President to shut up and called him a clown. No one much minded. But Trump’s objective this time will be to unsettle Biden so much that he will either lose his cool completely or will have some kind of senior moment… losing his thread of thought, stuttering uncontrollably, looking confused … which will make it look like Biden can not perform under pressure. Anything that might make Biden look like he is on the verge of senility.
If Trump can get Biden to so strongly protect his son that he implicates himself in some way, that will be a bonus.
At this point Trump has little to lose.
Biden on the other hand is on his third attempt to become president and is so close to winning this time that he can probably taste it — assuming he isn’t feeling any COVID-19 symptoms. He may think he can afford to lose a little, because his lead is so strong — as much as a 10 percentage points on a national basis.
The dislike or hatred for Trump is so intense among so many people, that they would vote for anyone who was not Trump, even if it meant that the coronavirus will continue to destroy lives and livelihoods, even if it meant that they would pay more in taxes and even if they believe that Biden will not last his full term in office.
Biden would really have to have some sort of epic fail to mess this one up. He really needs to try and stay above the fray and to keep a level head to come out as the winner of this debate.
Some may think that it is strange to have a debate at all when so many people have already voted and are continuing to. But the reality is that those millions who have already voted could not have been swayed either way by anyone. This debate is for those who haven’t yet voted, especially for that minority of people who are still undecided.
Trump knows that this is his one and only chance to deliver a knock-out punch. Biden knows that he has some leeway, and must concentrate on floating like a butterfly with maybe one or two bee-like stings for good TV.
If you like to see two septuagenarians really go at it hammer and tongs, this will be a debate not to miss.
In short, any fly who thinks that they may able to win the debate with a surprise appearance had better think again.