Trump definitely brought the fireworks for the first Presidential debate of 2020 on Tuesday night. From the start he made it a point to not let Joe Biden’s fake talking points go unanswered. But Trump was also tasked with keeping moderator Chris Wallace in check as well. Wallace has often been critical of Trump, despite the fact that Trump is the only candidate who was willing to sit down with Wallace for a long form interview. Biden has refused to do any such interviews, but Wallace has decided to give him a pass on avoiding any tough questions.
With that being said, Trump knew going in that if he relied on the moderator to keep Joe Biden honest, it would be a losing strategy. So he had to take it upon himself to both debate Biden and make sure Wallace didn’t give Biden a free pass on every misstatement.
I won’t go through the blow-by-blow here, as I’m sure most of you watched the debates and already know the high points and low points. Instead, I want to focus on what could have been behind Trump’s strategy of bringing the heat from the moment the debate started.
There were many rumors swirling around this week that the Biden team strategy was to do the first debate, then turn down the others on the grounds that Trump was too dishonest and that subsequent debates would be pointless.
This thinking echoes Nancy Pelosi’s earlier telegraphing where she said Biden shouldn’t even bother doing one debate.
Of course, Biden had to do at least one debate, if for nothing else just to show that he’s still alive after several months of being totally absent physically from the campaign trail. Especially this week where he went totally silent for days leading up to the debate.
So it’s very possible that the Trump team expects Biden to drop out of the next two debates. But now, with Trump’s non-stop attacks, they can claim Biden simply can’t take the heat. The debates were too much for him, and he can’t handle the pressure.
If Biden can’t handle the pressure of being pushed in a debate, how can he handle the pressure of being President?
That’s going to be the storyline and the narrative if Biden’s team does indeed plan on pulling out of the next two debates. If this is the case, it will end up looking like Trump’s debate performance was the right move. The media is making the post-debate news all about Trump’s over-aggressive style. So if Biden wants to drop out of the next two debates, he will have a tough time saying it was due to Trump’s dishonesty as the narrative is now all about Trump’s overbearing style.
Although this may sound a bit far fetched, let’s not forget that Nancy Pelosi has been telegraphing for weeks that Biden shouldn’t debate Trump. And now, just after the debates, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said that he would be surprised if this wasn’t the last debate. You can see his quote below from right after the debate.
… I wouldn’t be surprised by the way if this was the last presidential debate between the president of the United States and the former vice president of the United States but we will see.”
So does blatant pro-Biden CNN already know the strategy?
For now we will have to wait and see. But if Biden’s plan was to drop out of the next two debates, he may have to rethink that strategy as he will be handing Trump an easy claim to victory by simply saying that if Biden can’t handle the heat of the debate stage, he definitely can’t handle the presidency.
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