The disruptions and attacks in the presidential debate against Biden left a bad impression. Some Republicans quietly criticize him.
The president of the United States, Donald Trump, needed the first debate The general election will deal with his rival, Democrat Joe Biden. Instead, as so often happens, Trump spun it around.
The president set the tone of one of the most unpleasant debates of recent times, as he repeatedly harassed and interrupted Biden. Biden alternated between ignoring the president and becoming increasingly irritated. Moderator Chris Wallace admonished and pleaded with Trump to let his rival speak.
Maybe the aggressive attitude of Trump attracted his most passionate followers, a display of the audacity that brought him to the Oval Office. But by the end of the 90-minute contest, it was unclear whether Trump had managed to regain ground in trying to expand his coalition or win over influential voters, particularly highly educated white women and independents who have been discouraged. partly because of the same tone and tenor that the president showed on the stage of the debate.
“Trump brought the chaotic character of his presidency to the scene of the debate,” analyzed Alex Conant, a Republican strategist. “He needed to get Biden out of his game, but he may have reminded independent voters why they have turned against him.”
In fact, if there was ever a debate that alienated voters from politics, this was it. Although there were a series of complex and weighty issues on the agenda of the debate – a vacancy in the Supreme Court, the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, a clarification of the country in what it does to the racial issue and police brutality – the candidates’ drastically different views of the country were often overshadowed by the obvious contempt of one for the other.
What was probably seen were not the moments that Trump was looking for. The most surprising exchange of the night came when the president failed to condemn the white supremacist groups. And when asked by Biden to comment on the Proud Boys, a group of neo-fascists made up exclusively of men who define themselves as “Western chauvinists” and who are known for inciting street violence, the president gave a puzzling response.
“Proud Boys, step back and be prepared,” Trump said.
There were also glaring gaps in Trump’s guidance on the future of health coverage in the United States and how to control the pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States this year. He also refused to accept scientific data on climate change, even as record-breaking wildfires rage in the West.
Among Trump’s political challenges in this tumultuous year has been to launch a sustained and permanent attack on Biden. Some Republicans believe he has squandered many of the benefits of the presidency: the money and the months a sitting president can spend defining an eventual rival in the eyes of the voters.
The result is that, five weeks before Election Day and with voting already underway in some key states, Trump continues to trail Biden in national polls. The Democrat also leads him in some of the contested states, although in others they appear to be significantly closer.
As the time to change the course of the contest is ending, Trump came to the debate armed with a series of attacks against his opponent. He questioned the effectiveness of Biden in his nearly five decades in Washington and tried to link his more moderate rival with the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party.
He launched a barrage of unsubstantiated corruption allegations against Biden’s son for his work in Ukraine, as well as his struggle with addiction, and questioned Biden’s intelligence.
“Don’t use the word smart on me again,” Trump told the former vice president. “You are not smart at all.”
Biden responded to the president’s attacks over and over again using his own scathing rhetoric and he called Trump a “clown”, a “racist” and a “liar.”
At a time when Trump kept interrupting, Biden blurted out, “Wanna shut your mouth, man?”
Surely this low-level debate could have risks for Biden too. Her campaign needs strong participation from youth, black voters and Latinos – groups with lower turnout rates and in some cases, less enthusiasm for Biden – to turn her strong position in the polls into a victory in November.