• "Will You Shut Up, Man?" Trump-Biden Debates More Likely To Help Biden Without Change In Trump Tactics

    May 15, 2024
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    We Tried It This Way in 2020, And To Be Honest, The Format Didn't Favor Trump

    What short memories some of us possess. Donald Trump supporters online today cheered the announcement that Joe Biden's camp chose to accept not one, but two debates. Both will take place before early voting. The Biden stipulations: no audience, and CNN to host.

    Now think back to 2020. The widely held belief was that Trump, with his superior recall and ability to freestyle on virtually any topic for hours, would wipe the stage with the slow and elderly Biden. Many predicted that Biden would suffer a senior moment or two, ramble incoherently, and perhaps end with one of his cringe-inducing "well, anyway..." sign-offs.

    That's not how the first debate went. It was hosted relatively neutrally by establishment talking head Chris Wallace. No real lasting blame can be laid at his feet. Trump was the aggressor, but Biden landed the first big blow (in the clip above). "Will you shut up, man?" was a surprisingly effective parry to Trump's interruptions, and it showed Biden was willing to step outside of his conventional stance and fight unconventionally in front of a national audience.

    That said, Trump did just post a rousing video online to promote the debates. What seems horribly lost in translation is that rallies are Trump's specialty. He glories in the spotlight and the ability to deliver an undiluted message. The debate stage is a different animal.

    Even a shell of a man can be prepped and propped up enough to deliver one good line. Biden pulled it off four years ago. Biden was mocked today for the insane numer of jump-cuts in his short debate acceptance video, but that's inside baseball, wonk stuff.

    The comedian Shane Gillis said it best. "Biden is Trump's kryptonite in a debate," he says, because, "Trump's whole thing is he tries to get in the other guy's head. You can't get in Biden's head, [because] he's not in there."

    Shane Gillis (YouTube screencap).

    It's funny, as they say, because it's true. The question is, what did Trump learn from the first debate? His approach was more toned down and effective for the second 2020 debate, but as a general rule, fewer people tend to watch the subsequent debates.

    Trump Has Much To Lose, Biden Much To Gain

    Trump is up in the polls. Trump has won over many black voters. Trump has grown his share of young voters. Depending on the poll, Trump is leading in all or many of the swing states.

    Meanwhile, Bidenflation continues to be a single-issue voting topic among many Americans. Crime is up. Two wars--both funded by the U.S.--continue to rage on.

    "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake," quoth Napoleon. Biden is making several. The debates, especially on Biden's terms, offer two chances to turn the tide. At the very least, Trump's team could have fought to choose one of the moderators and/or locations. The "anywhere, anytime" posture sounds tough, but it comes off as cavalier given the stakes.

    Last thought: Trump's confidence is woven into his persona completely. It is the reason for his varied and legendary success. It can also be his Achilles' heel. To be successful in the away-game debates, he'll need new tactics and strategy: throw Biden off. Cede time to him until Joe's wheels begin to creak. Talk about his granddaughter born of a stripper in Arizona. Whatever the case, don't do the same thing as in 2020.

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