In the last TV duel before the presidential election, Donald Trump and Joe Biden made serious accusations. The new rules are good for the format – clear differences become clear.
Less than two weeks before the US presidential election, Donald Trump and Joe Biden used the last TV duel to carry out heavy attacks on the character and positions of their opponents. The debate in Nashville, Tennessee, in front of an audience of millions, offered them one of the best opportunities to turn the mood in the election campaign. The 90 minutes were about the coronavirus, families, racism, climate change, national security and their respective ideas about leadership.
The most important findings in lightning analysis:
That was how the debate went
The second debate was the first to deserve the name. They argued, also on the matter. It was much more civilized than in the screaming duel three weeks ago. The new rule, according to which the microphone of the candidate who was not in line, was muted at the beginning of each topic block, also helped.
Trump and Biden covered each other with serious accusations, later it was more about concrete politics. Differences became clear again and again, for example in environmental and energy policy, when dealing with corona and racism. Presenter Kristen Welker from NBC television, who was heavily criticized by Trump in advance, had the conversation well under control.
This is how Trump did
The President took a completely different approach than in the first debate. He stuck to the rules for a long time and did not keep interrupting, even if he was having trouble keeping the line down. His answers to corona and health policy were shaped by known falsehoods. The conclusion of the CNN fact-checker: “Trump behaved better, but he lied more.”
Trump’s strategy was clear: he wanted to brand his opponent as corrupt and therefore kept coming back to a completely unproven email affair with his son Hunter. He also repeatedly attacked Biden as a “politician” – the head of state wants to continue to stage himself as an “anti-politician” even after four years in power. He was unable to offer any concrete plans for a second term.
This is how Biden acted
The man with the plan – in contrast to Donald Trump. This is how Joe Biden wanted to present himself, and he succeeded for a long time. “He still has no plan,” he accused Trump of several issues. The much more civilized debate helped him to make the political differences to Trump clear.
Biden showed that he can be tough – and not just “Sleepy Joe,” as Trump mockingly calls him. Any country that interferes in the election “will pay a price if I become president,” threatened Biden. At the same time, he presented himself as presidential and reconciling – as a president who, in contrast to Trump, wanted the country to be one. Biden promised that he would represent all Americans.
The exchange of blows
The strategies showed up in a confrontation. When Trump again confronted his opponent with the corruption allegations, Biden tried to clear this away with a clear statement: “I have never in my life accepted a penny from a foreign source.”
And he portrayed the attacks on his family as a smoke candle. “It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family,” he said to the camera and the audience. “We should talk about your family.” Biden then spoke about financial straits in the current economic crisis. Trump, in turn, portrayed this as a diversionary maneuver: “This is a typical political statement. I’m not a typical politician, that’s why I was elected,” scoffed Trump. “Come on Joe, you can do better.”
Both performed better than on lap one. Some of Trump’s attacks on Biden, for example in economic policy, are likely to catch on with voters who are skeptical of the Democrats. Biden, on the other hand, focused entirely on character contrast – a strategy that brought him far in the election campaign. Since Biden is ahead in the polls, he primarily had to survive the 90 minutes without a major mistake. He succeeded. So the debate is unlikely to shake up the dynamics of the presidential campaign – good for Biden.