mcloudy.png
Sunday June 20th, 2021 7:01PM

Trump, Biden prepare to debate at a time of mounting crises

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CLEVELAND (AP) — In an election year like no other, the first debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, could be a pivotal moment in a race that has remained stubbornly unchanged in the face of historic tumult.

The Tuesday night debate will offer a massive platform for Trump and Biden to outline their starkly different visions for a country facing multiple crises, including racial justice protests and a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs.

The health emergency has upended the usual trappings of a presidential campaign, lending heightened importance to the debate. But amid intense political polarization, comparatively few undecided voters remain, raising questions as to how, or if, the debate might shape a race that has been defined by its bitterness and, at least so far, its stability.

Biden will step onto the Cleveland stage holding leads in the polls — significant in the national surveys, closer in the battleground states — but facing questions about his turn in the spotlight, particularly considering Trump’s withering attacks. And Trump, with only 35 days to change the course of the race, will have arguably his best chance to try to reframe the campaign as a choice election and not a referendum over his handling of a virus that has killed more people in America than any other nation.

“This will be the first moment in four years that someone will walk on stage as co-equal to Trump and be able to hold him to account for the malfeasance he has shown leading the country,” said Steve Schmidt, senior campaign aide for John McCain’s 2008 Republican presidential bid and a frequent Trump critic. “If Biden is unable to indict Trump for all that he has done, (that) would be profound failure. There is no spinning that away.”

The president's handling of the coronavirus will likely dominate much of the discussion. The pandemic's force will be tangible as the candidates' podiums will be spaced far apart and the traditional opening handshake scrapped.

And the debate could be shaped by an extraordinary confluence of other recent moments: the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, allowing Trump to nominate a conservative jurist to replace a liberal voice and reshape the high court for generations, and the blockbuster revelations about Trump’s long-hidden tax history, including that he paid only $750 a year in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and nothing in many other years.

But the impact of the debate — or the two that follow in the weeks ahead — remains unclear.

The tumult of 2020 is difficult to overstate: COVID-19 has rewritten the rules of everyday life; schools and businesses are shuttered; and racial justice protests have swept the nation after a series of high-profile killings of Black people by police.

Despite the upheaval, the presidential race has remained largely unchanged since Biden seized control of the Democratic field in March. The nation has soured on Trump's handling of the pandemic, and while his base of support has remained largely unchanged, he has seen defections among older and female voters, particularly in the suburbs, and his path to 270 Electoral College votes, while still viable, has shrunk.

Polls suggest fewer undecided voters remain than at this point in the 2016 campaign. And several high-profile debates in past elections that were thought to be game-changing moments at the time ultimately had little lasting effect.

Four years ago, Democrat Hillary Clinton was widely seen as besting Trump in their three debates, but she lost in November. In 2012, Mitt Romney crushed Barack Obama in their first meeting only to falter in the rematches.

But some debates have mattered: most famously, a turning point in the 1960 race was when John F. Kennedy was perceived — at least by TV viewers — as outdueling Richard Nixon. And in 1980, Ronald Reagan was able to reassure nervous voters that he possessed a presidential temperament when he delivered a winning performance against incumbent Jimmy Carter.

While both sides anticipate a vicious debate between two men who do not like each other, the Biden campaign has downplayed the night’s importance, believing that the pandemic and the battered economy will outweigh any debate stage gaffe or zinger. Conversely, the Trump campaign has played up the magnitude of the duel, believing it will be a moment for the president to damage Biden and recast the race.

Trump had told advisers that he is preparing an all-out assault on Biden, claiming that the former senator’s 47 years in Washington have left him out of touch and that his family, namely his son Hunter, has benefited from corruption. The president on Monday also repeated his demand that Biden take some sort of drug test, asserting without evidence that the Democratic nominee was somehow using a performance enhancer.

That continued a curious round of expectations setting: While Trump’s campaign has of late praised Biden’s debate skills, the president has also vividly portrayed his opponent as not being up to the job, potentially allowing Biden to come off well as long as he avoids a major stumble.

“This guy doesn’t have a clue. He doesn’t know where the hell he is,” Trump said recently, likening the debate to a boxing match and pointing to his head. “To win matches you need that up here. This wins, probably, it’s 50% of it. This is not prime time for Joe.”

But Trump — never a polished debater, though a commanding presence on stage — has done little in the way of formal preparations, which may mean he is walking into his own trap.

“Historically, incumbents do less well in the first debate, largely because they’re unaccustomed to being challenged openly,” said presidential historian Jon Meacham. “The most important single debate in terms of direct impact on outcome came 40 years ago, with the single Carter-Reagan meeting a week before the election. The key question then — ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ — has fresh and compelling resonance.”

Biden’s performances during the primary debates were uneven, and some Democrats have been nervous as to how he will fare in an unscripted setting. But his team views the night as a moment to illuminate Trump’s failings with the pandemic and economy, with the former vice president acting as a “fact checker on the floor” while bracing himself for the onslaught that is coming.

“They’re going to be mostly personal,” Biden said. “That’s the only thing he knows how to do. He doesn’t know how to debate the facts because he’s not that smart. He doesn’t know that many facts.”

___

Lemire reported from New York.

___

Follow Lemire at http://twitter.com/JonLemire and Colvin at http://twitter.com/colvinj

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump, Biden prepare to debate at a time of mounting crises
The first debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden looms as a milestone in an American election year like no other
4:23PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Woman pleads not guilty, denied bail over Trump ricin letter
A Canadian woman charged with threatening President Donald Trump's life by mailing a package containing ricin has been ordered held without bail
4:16PM ( 22 minutes ago )
'Runaway train': Serena wins French Open opener; Nadal, too
Serena Williams has won her opener at the French Open, going from a first set that required a tiebreaker to a lopsided second set in which she did not drop a game
4:11PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Judge: Man charged in 2006 Iraq slayings to remain jailed
A judge in Arizona has ruled that an Iraqi immigrant arrested on charges of participating in the 2006 killings of two police officers in Iraq will remain jailed until his extradition case concludes
3:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
Armenia, Azerbaijan clash in separatist region for a 2nd day
Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh is continuing for a second day with both sides blaming each other for resuming the attacks that have reportedly killed and wounded dozens
2:50PM ( 1 hour ago )
More fires in California wine country prompt evacuations
Northern California’s wine country was on fire again as strong winds fanned flames in the already scorched region, prompting evacuation orders involving more than 50,000 people
2:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
NY Times: Trump paid $750 in US income taxes in 2016, 2017
President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for president and in his first year in the White House
11:44AM ( 4 hours ago )
New California fire scorches wine country near San Francisco
California firefighters are battling destructive new wildfires north of San Francisco as strong winds fan flames in the already badly scorched state
10:57AM ( 5 hours ago )
At UN, nations urge overdue reckoning with colonial crimes
Leaders of countries once subjugated to Western powers spoke out about still-stinging scars of colonialism at this year’s U.N. General Assembly
10:54AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Cindy McCain joins Biden's transition advisory board
Cindy McCain will advise Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential transition team as it prepares for the former vice president to take office if he wins in November
3:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
Pompeo pledges US support to ease Greece-Turkey dispute
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States will use its diplomatic and military influence in the region to try to ease a volatile dispute between NATO allies Greece and Turkey over energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean
2:45PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Kansas: Record 16% of virus tests are positive
Kansas is reporting another seven-day record for new coronavirus cases, with 16% of tests for the virus during that period coming back positive
2:42PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Pandemic overwhelms Trump's message in critical N. Carolina
President Donald Trump’s push to inject new dynamics into the final weeks of the 2020 election is being overshadowed by the frightening realities of everyday life in the pandemic
1:41AM ( 14 hours ago )
Joe Biden: Vacancy about health law, not court expansion
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says the GOP's push for a speedy Supreme Court confirmation is really an effort to overturn the 2010 health care law
6:10PM ( 22 hours ago )
Biden to Democrats: Focus on health law, not court expansion
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says the GOP's push for a speedy Supreme Court confirmation is really an effort to overturn the 2010 health care law
4:02PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Supreme Court News
Spain's top court rules to remove Catalan chief from office
Spain’s Supreme Court has effectively barred Catalonia’s regional president from his office for refusing to remove a banner calling for the release of separatist leaders from prison that was displayed on a public building ahead of the 2019 general election
2:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
Strongly predict the malarkey of Trump-Biden debate for cash
Will “Sleepy Joe” be the first derisive nickname President Donald Trump bestows upon Joe Biden
11:41AM ( 4 hours ago )
The only debate moderator to return, Fox's Wallace preps
All eyes are on Fox's Chris Wallace as he prepares to moderate the first presidential debate
9:55AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Elections
Biden, Trump take differing approaches to debate preparation
Ahead of the first debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, each campaign is promising a stark contrast in policy, personality and preparation
6:37PM ( 22 hours ago )
Lockdowns are fading, but GOP outrage isn't in campaigns
It's not just Democrats who want voters thinking about the pandemic on Election Day
5:13PM ( 23 hours ago )
Appellate court halts Wisconsin ballot-counting extension
A federal appeals court has temporarily halted a six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin
5:09PM ( 23 hours ago )
General Election News
Conservatives lead in French Senate elections, Greens gain
France’s main conservative party looked set to keep control of the Senate and the Greens made new gains in partial elections Sunday
6:08PM ( 22 hours ago )
100,000 march in Belarus capital on 50th day of protests
About 100,000 demonstrators marched in Belarus' capital calling for the authoritarian president's ouster, some wearing cardboard crowns to ridicule him
2:23PM ( 1 day ago )
Macron's party faces struggle in French Senate elections
Nearly half of France’s Senate seats are up for grabs Sunday in an election that is likely to leave the chamber dominated by conservatives and serve a new electoral blow to President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party
7:17AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
GOP invests $10M in boosting Trump with Barrett confirmation
The Republican National Committee is putting Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation fight front and center with voters just weeks before Election Day
5:29PM ( 1 day ago )
GOP invests in boosting Trump with Barrett confirmation
The Republican National Committee is putting Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation fight front and center with voters just weeks before Election Day
5:16PM ( 1 day ago )
Probe into 'discarded' ballots becomes campaign outrage fuel
A federal prosecutor's description of nine “discarded” military ballots found in the trash at a northeastern Pennsylvania elections office has been seized on by President Donald Trump and his supporters, despite any public evidence they were handled with nefarious intent
12:49AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Woman pleads not guilty, denied bail over Trump ricin letter
A Canadian woman charged with threatening President Donald Trump's life by mailing a package containing ricin has been ordered held without bail
4:16PM ( 23 minutes ago )
'Runaway train': Serena wins French Open opener; Nadal, too
Serena Williams has won her opener at the French Open, going from a first set that required a tiebreaker to a lopsided second set in which she did not drop a game
4:11PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Texas sheriff indicted after probe into Black man's death
A grand jury has indicted a Texas sheriff on charges accusing him of destroying or concealing video in an investigation into the death in custody of a Black man, Javier Ambler, that was filmed by a police reality TV series “Live PD.”
4:11PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Vision 2020: Are absentee votes and mail-in votes different?
What’s the difference between absentee voting and mail voting
4:06PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Wall Street claws back some of its losses from September
Wall Street rallied Monday as the stock market clawed back some of its sharp losses from September
4:06PM ( 32 minutes ago )