The final US presidential face-off scheduled before the November election takes place tonight in Nashville, Tennessee, from 2:00 BST. Our analyst Political Joe previews this highly anticipated debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Don't forget to subscribe so you can stay updated to the latest experts insights every week.
A Final Fling at wooing the Undecided Voter
With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Thursday night sees the last meeting of President Trump and Joe Biden on a debate stage. Deprived of their second encounter due to covid complications, and the lack of affection for a virtual format from the Trump campaign, both candidates will have a final fling at wooing the undecided voter.
President Trump’s target for Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee, will be to maintain the energy generated within his base from recent rallies, while also attempting to close what appears to be a significant polling gap on Biden. With more than 30 million votes already cast however, he could be running out of road faster than most people believe.
Joe Biden’s target will be simple. His campaign is most definitely approaching this debate in ‘what we have we hold’ mode. Don’t get dragged down to President Trump’s level, as happened occasionally during the first debate, and don’t say or do anything which might jeopardise a lead. It’s difficult to know whether it’s better to be the hunter or the hunted when it comes to a situation like this, but one thing that is for sure, Joe Biden has a lot more to lose tonight.
Rules of Engagement
To avoid the debacle that was the first debate, the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) have set about ensuring a more palatable 90 minutes for the viewer. The debate will be divided into 15 minutes segments on six topics, with each candidate permitted two minutes to deliver uninterrupted remarks. To ensure this, microphones of the opposition will be muted. However, for the final nine minutes of each segment their will be open debate; these are the points where we can expect the fireworks.
It’s difficult to see how Joe Biden could lose a section like this. More than 220,000 people in the United States have lost their lives to the pandemic and the number of infections has topped 8 million in recent days, while continuing to surge.
The polls strongly indicate that leading the country on a path through the pandemic, while reviving a faltering economy, is to the forefront of voter’s minds. It’s an open goal for Biden, he just has to take the right shot.
Race in America
Once again this will be a polarising topic. It’s an issue that has been front and centre in the campaign to date following the unrest in Minnesota and many other locations across the country. Black Lives Matter is a hot topic and was discussed to some degree in the first debate. Biden has questioned President Trump’s moral leadership on the general issue and I would expect similar accusations this evening.
While difficult to predict what the target areas for either candidate might be, it goes without saying that old reliables Russia and China are sure to get a mention. While President Trump may have highlighted concerns about the integrity of the postal ballot system Biden may well approach this from an international election interference angle.
A hot topic during the Democratic Presidential Primaries it has been superseded by other more pressing matters like the pandemic.
Expect both men to have very different thoughts and arguments here. After all, President Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Accord, and Biden has suggested it’s one of the first items on his list to re-join should he be elected.
Another topic that could go in lots of different directions. Overnight former President Obama has been on the campaign trail on behalf of Biden and launched a scathing attack on President Trumps leadership. Alleging that Trump has treated the presidency like a reality TV show for his own personal gain rather than taking the job seriously.
Trump has rallied supporters with the statement, “I did more in 47 months as president than Joe Biden did in 47 years.” If he gets backed into a corner on this subject, it could well be a go to line along with rebutting the Obama comments.
Once again, a topic that is so broad the viewer could be taken in a direction they’re not expecting. With the recent controversy around Hunter Biden this could be a section where President Trump might be willing to throw up a Hail Mary. There was a brief mention of Hunter in the first debate and it did appear to rattle Biden.
Currently on offer at 7/4 (36% chance) at Paddy Power & Betfair, Trump’s odds have begun to drift in recent days following a noticeable resurgence. It will be intriguing to see how the final debate might influence prices tomorrow.
This Political Joe views this debate as the final round of a boxing match where President Trump is behind on the scorecards. He’ll go down swinging, but it’s up to Biden to avoid a knockout blow.