The last television duel of the US election campaign is down to business: US President Trump is acting almost like a challenger. And in the end, Biden makes a statement that could cost him crucial voters.
Now nothing stands between US President Donald Trump, his competitor Joe Biden and the election on November 3rd. The second televised duel is over and thus the last big chance to present yourself to the undecided voters who have remained. Trump was tamed in behavior, but razor-sharp in his attacks on Biden. He delivered a solid to good performance, but missed a few opportunities to confront the president with his politics.
The president had a balancing act in front of him: he had to attack Biden, but could not appear disrespectful like in the first TV duel. This had turned into a wild interruption orgy, mainly because of Trump. After that, Biden’s lead in the polls grew significantly. Trump did the job, appeared mostly focused and behaved appropriately to the situation. As usual, Biden had a few linguistic dropouts, but became more dynamic as the discussion progressed. The topics were the corona crisis, influencing elections from abroad, racism, immigration, health insurance and climate change.
In the first quarter of an hour, Biden had a difficult time – incomprehensible, because the topic is how to proceed against Corona. The Democrat seems slightly unfocused and only points out late that Trump is partly responsible for the current situation. Trump, on the other hand, says: We had the best economy ever, there will be a vaccine soon. Not he, but China is to blame for the situation. Then he tries to arouse the audience’s sympathy for entrepreneurs: “New York is dying,” complains Trump, the streets are empty: “We have to protect our companies.”
Joe Biden starts weak
The televised debates are the only large-scale campaign events attended by Democrats, Republicans and, most importantly, the few swing voters, watch. In 2016, two weeks before election day, 5 million Americans had cast their vote, currently there are already at least 47 million. That is almost a third of the total votes cast in 2016. Corona and the economy are particularly important to voters in this election.
But from Biden only one situation really sticks at the start. When he said Trump knew that Corona was much more dangerous than the common flu, but kept it quiet to prevent panic. Rather, it was Trump who panicked. From this point onwards, Biden gets better. He is especially strong when he speaks to the audience directly and links topics with his personal experiences.
When it comes to trying to influence the election from abroad, Trump has an opportunity to tinker with the alleged corruption of his competitor and his son Hunter. Biden assures him that he never accepted any money from any country in the world. After a counterattack that Trump had been announcing for years that he would publish his tax return, but never did, the discussion slipped into a contest over who is more likely to be under the influence of another country and, above all, who does “business” with China . At some point, Biden only grins, shaking his head, while Trump mimics the innocent victim and points his finger at his competitor.
Then Biden takes the helm and makes a personal address to the audience: It’s not about his family, but about theirs. Trump blasphemers: “Typical politicians. [..] I’m not your typical politician, that’s why I was elected. “
Good relationship with leaders
Trump claims that because of his personal relationship with North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, he prevented a nuclear war. “Having a good relationship with leaders is a good thing,” says Trump, complaining that ex-President Barack Obama and his vice-president Biden left him in “chaos”. Biden replies that Trump has achieved nothing. Kim is a criminal and North Korea’s nuclear weapons are more dangerous than ever before, as they can now also reach the US mainland.
In the second half of the duel, Biden becomes particularly strong. It’s about the future of health insurance, another key issue for voters. Trump claims that Biden wants to take away the Americans’ insurance and replace it with a state system. Biden fended off the attacks in passing and scoffed: “I’m still waiting for the new Republican health insurance plan” – it will probably come with the infrastructure plan. This has also been announced for years.
It becomes emotional when the moderator brings up the topic of immigration. The US has been discussing for days that the federal authorities on the southern border with Mexico locked up immigrant children alone – and can no longer find their parents. More than 500 children are affected. Biden calls this criminal. Trump keeps teasing with the question of who built the cages. “He didn’t do anything for eight years,” complains Trump. Meanwhile, Biden announced that the 11 million people without a residence permit in the country will be naturalized.
When it comes to racism, it gets heated. Biden addresses what it means for African Americans to move around in public under general suspicion of the police. At this point it becomes clear once again that Trump often does not behave like a president in this debate, but more like a challenger. He immediately attacks Biden and mentions the anti-crime law from the 1990s that so many African Americans went to jail for and which Biden endorsed.
Biden defuses the situation with humanity: the law was a mistake, he admits, and promises comprehensive reforms. Trump steps in and says, “Just words, no actions – these politicians. Why haven’t you done anything for eight years? Because that’s you.” Biden’s answer is short: the Republican-controlled Congress did not allow it.
Biden gets personal
Finally, it’s about climate change. Trump says he won’t sacrifice tens of thousands of jobs because of the Paris climate agreement. Biden sets out details of his green business plan. He wants to build 50,000 electric charging stations on the highways and create a total of 18.5 million jobs: “The fastest growing industry is solar and wind energy, and those are good jobs for 45 to 50 dollars an hour.” Trump blasphemed that he knew more about wind than Biden: “It is very expensive, kills all birds and wind turbines they make in Germany and China.” He calls Biden’s plan the “craziest plan of all time”. They wanted to tear down buildings and rebuild them with smaller windows.
Trump wants to know what Biden plans to do with fracking oil production. Biden explains how harmful it is and how he himself experienced it as a child in Delaware, that the oil stuck the windshield and people died of cancer as a result. “We will no longer give grants to the oil industry and pay them to the wind and solar industries,” the Democrat announced. Over time, it will have to be replaced by renewable energies.
Then Biden drops a supposed bomb: by 2025 he wants zero carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation. Apparently a slip of the tongue: Biden’s official plan speaks of clean energy by 2035 and a complete cut in emissions by 2050. Currently, almost 80 percent of energy in the US comes from oil and gas. Trump sounds triumphant: “He wants to destroy the oil industry! Do you remember that, Texas? Do you remember that, Pennsylvania? Ohio?” All three states are unlikely to vote for Democrats or Republicans, according to the polls, and could give a decisive direction to the election.
What remains of the duel is that Biden clearly showed his strengths, with empathy and with his topics. Trump also mastered his balancing act very well – he was not rude and attacked Biden the way he wanted to: on his past, in terms of business and the alleged connections abroad. Will it be enough for re-election? The polls so far have suggested otherwise. But the effects of this TV duel will only be seen in the coming days. And then the choice is just around the corner.