Donald Trump and Joe Biden face each other for the second and last time in Nashville tonight. After the previous debate – dubbed by commentators as the “ worst and most resentful presidential debate ever ” – eyes are mostly on the behavior of the candidates.
It’s the last major televised appearance for both candidates, and so one more chance to bring in some floating voters. “This is Trump’s last chance to turn the conversation of the day his way,” said correspondent Lucas Waagmeester. “His campaign has not been successful in recent weeks, and according to all the polls, he is in trouble.”
However, the vast majority of voters have already decided who to vote for. In fact, more than 30 million Americans have already done so. “As long as both parties do not make huge mistakes, such a debate will not change much”, says Annelien de Dijn, professor of Political History at Utrecht University. “Both candidates are such well-known figures this year that they can hardly surprise. We know their positions by now.”
Marieke de Vries reports the debate for the NOS, and found that it is quite a task to reach the debate location at all:
“Important themes are discussed, but certainly after the previous debate you will pay more attention to the style and form”, says Waagmeester. Then Trump tried to lure Biden out of the tent by interrupting him often. “This made Biden falter a lot and had to search for words. He needs peace and time to tell his story. But Trump has been criticized for his” non-presidential “attitude, so he will have to find the balance.
The topics of discussion have been determined in advance. The candidates will debate covid-19, family, race, climate change, national security and leadership. Trump’s camp protested against these issues: they wanted foreign policy on the program too. They also disagreed with the choice of the moderator, NBC journalist Kristen Welker.
The fact that corona is an important topic can work out well for Biden. His campaign has consisted largely of criticizing Trump’s corona policy. “Trump focuses more on his efforts to save the economy,” says De Dijn. “It is a pity for him that that subject is not in the list.”
Yet both parties have a clear strategy on almost all subjects. Climate change is striking in that respect, says Waagmeester. “Trump has actually ignored climate change during his presidency, so he has little text on it. What he can do is respond to fears that Biden’s climate policy will cost a lot of money.”
After the chaotic first debate, the rules of conduct have been tightened. For example, a candidate’s microphone is turned off at certain times when the other is speaking. The committee that organizes the debates found this necessary after the first debate, in which Trump, in particular, often interrupted Biden.
During this debate, both candidates will have two minutes to answer a question. Then the opponent may go against it. Both campaign teams agreed to this rule, although Trump later called it “unfair.”
De Dijn thinks the new measure is a wise choice. According to her, many voters were disappointed with the state of politics after the first debate. “This kind of mud-throwing and constant interruptions don’t make people feel good about their political leaders.”