The 2020 presidential debates have been set.
The Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonprofit established in 1987, sponsors the debates. There are three presidential debates scheduled. The first is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29, in Cleveland, Ohio. The second is for Thursday, Oct. 15, in Miami, Florida, and the third, just a week later on Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. There will be one vice presidential debate, on Wednesday, Oct. 7, in Salt Lake City.
With President Trump trailing in polls and the pandemic limiting traditional campaigning, the debates would appear to take on more importance. Some are saying Biden will be a no-show for the debates, but that is not likely.
First, Vice President Biden is not a strong debater. During the Democrat primary debates, he would attempt to cram an hour of facts into a five-minute response. He often lost his train of thought and would stop midsentence when told his time was up. Biden has never been a good debater. He doesn’t think on his feet well. During the Democratic primary debates, he didn’t present himself well, which contributed to his not securing the nomination as quickly as he had hoped. It’s fair to say that debating is not his strong suit. During the Democratic primary debates, Biden often looked uncomfortable and disengaged, and that was with a stage of seven people.
Second, President Trump is a fair debater - much better at it than Biden. The POTUS’ greatest strength is that he can think on his feet. Whether you agree with him or not, he does handle himself well on a stage. His style is far from traditional, but it works for him. He doesn’t get rattled when attacked and responds to attacks well. On stage in the crowed 2016 GOP debates, Trump was not intimidated and looked comfortable. When attacked, he didn’t back down. He needs to be more “traditional” in 2020 and present his plan for a second term. He can claim some very impressive accomplishments in his first term. He should highlight those.
Third, the 2020 debates are very important. With a pandemic in place, more voters will view the debates than in the past. Convincing undecided voters is the whole goal for the candidates. Trump has the communication skills. Biden struggles on a debate stage. Conventional campaigning is not to be in 2020. Social media and mass media will play a more important role in this year’s election.
So-called experts claim all Biden has to do to stay ahead is to present himself in an “adequate” way. He doesn’t have to knock it out of the park. He can just get a bunt single. Talk about a low standard.
Those same experts claim Trump has to hit a grand slam in all three debates to win in November. The truth is somewhere in the middle, but based on past debate performances of the two, the best bet is on Trump to perform well.
He will be entertaining, but unlike it was in 2016 when he didn’t have a track record, he can point to some significant accomplishments in his first term. If he reminds voters of those accomplishments in his first term, that should get him re-elected.
Steve Fair is the District 4 Oklahoma Republican Party chair.