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The second debate was a completely different animal from the first. President Trump and former Vice President Biden were able to present their answers, arguments, and attacks without constant interruptions from each other or the moderator.
The new muted mics rule worked quite well and we should expect to see it in future debates. When one candidate answered a question, the other’s mic was muted. After both provided their statements, the mics were left open for that lively partisan bickering we’ve come to expect.
This worked greatly to Donald Trump’s favor.
The President vastly improved his performance, holding Joe Biden’s feet to the fire while maintaining his cool. Biden turned in the journeyman performance one would expect from a frontrunner. His job was to remain upright and not commit some outlandish gaffe, a feat he achieved. And yet…
That tricky Trump fellow laid several traps and Joe eagerly jumped right into them.
To start the debate, Trump hit Biden hard on the growing “laptop from hell” controversy. Biden’s answers were either unsatisfactory or downright deceptive; that will come back to bite him. Since about 20 minutes were dedicated to the issue, the press will have a hard time maintaining their embargo.
Impressively, Trump focused on the Biden family’s lucrative arrangements with China, Russia, and Ukraine in a relaxed manner. His “more in sadness than in anger” tone raised question after question without the need to bang the table. Trump concern-trolled the hell out of Biden and it worked like a charm.
He also got Joe to deny that he ever wanted ban fracking, although we saw him say just that in the Democratic primary debates. Trump has the video and promised to release it yet again to our ever-incurious press.
When Biden blasted Trump over putting children in cages, POTUS kept reminding him that Obama created them. “Who built the cages, Joe?” Trump kept asking. Biden had no response.
Biden’s worst moment was when Trump actually got him to admit that he will end the US oil industry. Later, Joe tried to massage that promise but Trump highlighted it repeatedly, calling out voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Oklahoma to pay close attention to what that will mean for their jobs. Let a thousand ads bloom.
In addition to creating headaches for himself, Biden was remarkably inconsistent. Angry one moment, fake laughing the next, marble-mouthing convoluted answers. His energy level waxed and waned over the 90-minute affair, while Trump always appeared in command.
Moderator Kristen Welker of NBC wasn’t as dreadful as Chris Wallace or Savannah Guthrie, but she was faster to interrupt Trump than Biden, especially when the President was on a roll. According to the numbers, there were 24 interTrumps to two for Biden. And, of course, all the questions came from the left.
By the end of Thursday’s debate, the former vice president was looking at his watch, a move that doomed George H.W. Bush’s re-election (at least according to the press at the time). It was a visual reminder that Biden is playing a Prevent Defense and hoping to run out the clock.
A lot can happen in the second half of the fourth quarter. Tonight, Trump was moving down the field.Published in