What can you expect to see and hear on the presidential debate stage in Cleveland on Tuesday night?
President Donald Trump and Democrat nominee Joe Biden will discuss topics like the Supreme Court nominee, the coronavirus pandemic, and the economy. However, you can expect them to also discuss whatever they want as well.
“There’s a simple rule when it comes to debates, and that is do no harm and don’t answer the question that was asked but answer the question you want to answer,” said Andy Downs, a political science professor at Purdue University Fort Wayne. “You know Biden is going to want to bring up the tax issue that just came out in the New York Times about Donald Trump. The same way Trump is going to bring up the recent revelations about the size of income earned by Hunter Biden.”
Downs says Trump has the advantage going into the first debate.
“I think a lot of people are expecting President Trump to win,” he said. “I don’t like to use that term, but ‘win’ because he’s a better showman. But, if Joe Biden manages to make it through with no or very few gaffes, it could be that he is called the winner.”
Downs expects there to be insults said and jabs taken throughout the night as well, mostly from Trump. He adds the important part is to see how Biden responds.
“There’s this thought that says ‘you can’t out-Trump Trump, so don’t bother trying to compete.’ Don’t try to box his way or debate his way.”
Another political science professor, Laura Wilson from the University of Indianapolis, says bashing your opponent can work, if the candidates do it right.
“If you’re saying ‘Look, they voted on this and they supported that’ and you’re pointing to concrete, healthy-based issues, then it is affective,” Wilson said. “But when it becomes personal, when you’re no longer talking about the political issues but you’re talking about their personal life, they (the viewers and voters) see it as petty and pathetic, and may undervalue what you’re saying.”
The first 2020 Presidential Debate will be 90 minutes long, starting at 9 p.m., and will be moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. You’ll be able to listen to it on 95.3 FM. Casey Hendrickson is also hosting a debate watch party at Monterrey Mexican Bar and Grille in Mishawaka.