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How Donald Trump has already given Joe Biden a debate win



“Joe Biden is slipping. Now that he is 77 years old and running for president for the third time, Biden is clearly reduced. Joe Biden does not have the strength, endurance and mental strength required to lead this country.”

And then there are Instagram and other social media feeds of people like Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the president’s two eldest sons, who are filled with memes that paint Biden unclear – or worse.

The message is relentless and clear: The prospective Democratic nominee is not mentally fit to be president. He does not have up to the job he is looking for.

All this leads me to the three scheduled general election debates between Biden and Trump on September 29, October 1

5 and October 22.

As Axios Jonathan Swan – yes, the face meme guy – reported on Sunday, the Trump campaign sees the debates becoming increasingly important as the sitting seeks a change in the competition dynamics of the race. This is how Swan reported:

“Among President Trump’s closest aides, these debates have taken great care to close the election pattern and get Trump within striking distance of election day. The Trump campaign sees the debates as the crucial turning points left before November 3.

“I do not think so [Trump] sees the debates as the last turning points, but potentially the most important, says a source familiar with the results from the planning meeting. “I think he always thinks he can create a inflection point.”

Which is true! There is nothing obvious – short of an ahistorical VP election of Biden that turns out to be a disaster – that will change the racial path between now and the debates.

And now for Trump’s problem: After spending months attacking Biden who is barely there mentally, he has drastically lowered expectations of the former vice president in terms of debate performance.

Think about it: The image of Biden run by Trump is a guy who is completely out of it. Who is controlled by forces he does not know. Who can not stand on their own two feet (figuratively speaking). If Biden simply sounds moderately credible and convinced in the debates, that image will be appreciated. And at least some people who bought the Trump idea that Biden can’t do the job will have to reckon with the fact that the former VP is someone who seems a) able to put two sentences and b) knows where he is.

The remarkably low expectations of Biden’s results in the general election debates are an event for him. During the Democratic primary process – and its monthly debates – it became clear that the former Delaware senator was at best a mediocre debate. He tried to fill 10 minutes with facts in a two minute answer. He would change thoughts – and lines of argument – in the middle of a sentence. He would simply stop talking when his allotted time ended. He would sometimes fade into the background, even though he was the contestant.

In short: Joe Biden is not a very good debater. He may have his moments, but that’s just not his strong suit. Has never been.

Which makes Trump’s attempt to portray Biden so completely out of it all the more confusing strategically. And why the Trump campaign is trying to reshape its messages about Biden – and quickly.

“Joe Biden is actually a very good debater,” Trump White House Assistant Stephen Miller told The Washington Post over the weekend. “He does not have as many difficulties as in his everyday interviews. I would argue that Joe Biden would even be the favorite in the debates because he has done them for 47 years.”

You get the idea. Joe Biden can not be both of these things. Either he’s barely or he’s a talented debater. Not both.

If Biden walks away from this trio of general election debates as the perceived victory, he should send Trump a “thank you” message. Seriously.


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