At long last, the first presidential debate is upon us. After months of anticipation and awkward Joe Biden teleprompter incidents from his basement, it is time for President Trump and Joe Biden to face each other in-person.
The bar is so low for Joe Biden that, if he walks off the stage under his own power, the media will swoon over his performance and ignore the other 90 minutes of the debate. President Trump has made a similar point in recent days, and it is a valid one.
Trump has also noticeably, and smartly, talked up Biden’s history of debating slightly so as to not set expectations too low if somehow Biden turns in a respectable performance. Granted, the odds are still in favor of Biden falling flat on his face (maybe even falling asleep because the debate is happening past his bedtime), but stranger things have been known to happen.
During the primary debates, Biden did embarrassingly bad, with the possible exception of the last debate against Bernie Sanders. Even that performance wasn’t national debate champion worthy, and he was simply applauded for getting through the debate without making a fool of himself, which, for Sleepy Joe, is a monumental task.
President Trump, on the other hand, has far fewer debate reps throughout his life. He has only been in politics for four years, unlike Joe Biden, who has basically been in politics since the time of Aristotle. However, Trump has more than held his own during the debates he has participated in during this short time period of time. Trump is a cage fighter and is willing to lob verbal grenades that other candidates would never be willing to throw. Take, for example, when he told Hillary Clinton in 2016 that she would be in jail if he were president, or when he made fun of Rosie O’Donnel’s appearance during the first GOP debate during his first run for president. He also pounded Jeb Bush relentlessly for his support of his brother’s war in Iraq, something that no other Republican candidate had the stones to do.
Four years ago, Trump essentially tied Clinton in the first debate. He started strong in that debate but didn’t fare as well in the second half. However, he found his stride in the second debate and carried that over into the third and final debate which had a noticeable impact in prodding voters to cast their ballots for him.
It is nearly impossible to prepare for a debate against Donald Trump. He isn’t a classical debater; one never knows what Trump is going to say. He is not predictable and isn’t afraid to stir the pot and rattle the cage of his opponent. That has served him well thus far, and he is unlikely to change his combative style.
However, President Trump shouldn’t just attack Biden for personal reasons. He also needs to highlight his many policy successes in office and show command of the issues that he deals with on a daily basis. The American people don’t just want to see a mud fight, but also want to hear their candidate’s vision for the country, or in Trump’s case, about what he has done the past four years while in office.
Joe Biden doesn’t have the mental agility to avoid Trump’s jabs, and it will show. It strains credulity to believe that Joe Biden has the stamina to go toe-to-toe with Trump for 90 minutes on national tv. Unlike Trump, Biden isn’t a primetime player. We will find out if he has what it takes on Tuesday night. Get out the popcorn, it’s going to be fun to watch!