Biden team hoping for a Trump meltdown in first televised debate

Biden team hoping for a Trump meltdown in first televised debate

The Biden campaign is hoping for a Donald Trump meltdown in the first televised debate between the two candidates ahead of the November election.

President Joe Biden will take part in his first 2024 debate with the former president, now a convicted felon, on June 27, which will be aired on CNN. A second faceoff is set for September 10, hosted by ABC.

Trump refused to take part in any of the GOP primary debates, writing on Truth Social: “The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had. I will therefore not be doing the debates.”

But Team Biden hopes that the former president’s time on stage will remind the public what Trump’s White House years really looked like.

“The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ concept of President Trump is real. I think people forget the way he interacts, the way he communicates, the inaccuracies of the things he says and promises to the American people,” Democratic strategist Amanda Loveday, an adviser to the pro-Biden political action committee Unite the Country, told NBC.

“A debate like this deletes distraction and allows for people to see them next to each other and answer questions back to back and be able to compare them.”

President Joe Biden is falling behind in the polls
President Joe Biden is falling behind in the polls (AP)

Biden campaign officials believe that such comparison between the two candidates will give the current president an edge at a time when he is falling behind in the polls.

“I don’t think that he’s going to come off as diminished and meek,” Angelo Carusone, president of the left-leaning journalism watchdog group Media Matters for America, said of Biden. “My sense is that people will see that comparison and they’ll hear somebody making coherent arguments and Trump saying some really random stuff.

“Seeing him unfiltered for a little bit of time is important for people to at least be able to process just how much he’s changed. And it has gotten worse over time; he has declined. And in some ways, it has gotten more rabid and intense,” he added on Trump.

Recent polls have shown that Biden is losing support, including among Latino and Black voters, with many potential voters reporting greater confidence in Trump heading the economy.

Trump has sought to paint Biden as an inept politician who can barely follow a teleprompter and whose leadership includes entangling the US in two foreign wars.

Trump has repeatedly questioned Biden’s mental capacity
Trump has repeatedly questioned Biden’s mental capacity (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

He has also repeatedly questioned Biden’s mental capacity, branding him “Sleepy Joe” and claiming that he “can’t put two sentences together and he’s in charge of nuclear warfare”. Trump also trolled Biden in January with a spoof advert depicting the White House as a “senior living” establishment where “residents feel like presidents.”

But Democrats have argued that Biden’s strong policy record as president has been overlooked, with aides and allies frustrated he wasn’t getting credit for a strong economy and for advancing policy proposals in support of reproductive rights or bolstering infrastructure, forgiving federal student loans and capping the cost of insulin, as well as taking a strong stance on immigration.

Biden’s allies have largely put his performance in the polls down to the short memories of voters who have forgotten what Trump was like as president — but they hope voters’ memories will be jogged after the debates.

The president’s strategy during the debates will be to let “Trump be Trump,” a campaign official told NBC. This will reveal the Republican presidential candidate’s extreme leanings, they added, and will show that Trump is less stable now than he was four years ago.

In an interview Thursday with ABC News, Biden laid out his goals for the first debate. “Say what I think. Let him say what he thinks. The things he says are off the wall: ‘I want to be a dictator on day one.’ I want to move in a direction where he talks about, you know, suspending the Constitution,” Biden said. “All I have to do is hear what he says — remind people what he says and what I believe and what he believes. He’s about him. I’m about the country.”

Meanwhile, a campaign official told NBC that Biden is likely to cast Trump as obsessed with revenge and retribution and hark to the political violence in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol during the first debate.

“This is going to be the most important debate since JFK-Richard Nixon” in 1960, said Frank Luntz, a GOP pollster who regularly holds focus groups with voters.

We all get a chance to see whether Joe Biden is as feeble as Trump says he is. We all get a chance to see whether Donald Trump is as unhinged as Joe Biden says he is,” Luntz said. “This is our chance to test the worst accusations of the candidates against each other.”

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