Was Joe Biden’s Debate Strategy Effective?

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“Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Justin Knowles, Staff Writer

With the first presidential debate of 2020 looming, I knew I had to watch it. Donald Trump has never been the most mature businessman (as we can tell from his four years in office), and his immaturity truly came out during this debate. In the first couple of questions, Biden stuck to his script and provided facts about his plans to the audience and viewers. While Biden’s strategy seemed to be a great one, Trump’s lack of maturity and respect got in the way of Biden’s ability to inform his audience about the plans his administration would implement if elected. Trump’s constant interruptions highlighted the inability of the moderator to control his manic behavior. While I had expected Trump to be immature, I did not expect him to be so blatantly disrespectful and childish. When Biden talked about his plans for the Supreme Court and new justices, Trump would interrupt him, and Bident would lose his train of thought for a few seconds, have to retrace his steps, and recollect himself. This was Trump’s plan all along and sadly Biden fell right into it, getting lost in his words and having to find his train of thought all over again. 

Another part of Biden’s strategy was directly appealing to the American people at home watching the debate. When asked a question about packing the supreme court he pivoted and appealed to the voters at home by looking dead into the camera and telling them to vote. With Trump yelling in his ears, Biden tried his best to keep the viewer’s attention and he did for a while. In the debate, Biden discussed how horribly Trump has done with keeping his promises to the voters and highlighted his inaction on issues important to the American people such as healthcare. Biden used Trump’s weak spots to try to emphasize how bad of a president he is to the American voters watching. In my opinion, Biden’s strategy made a lot of sense– trying to capture the viewer’s attention, highlighting Trump’s faults and misdeeds, and tying everything back to the responsibility every American has to vote in the upcoming election.

An important thing I kept in the back of my mind while watching the debate was Biden’s mannerisms. For the most part, Biden kept eye contact with the moderator, the physical audience, or the camera. The times when Biden looked at Trump was when he talked about his son and when Biden had to wait until Trump stopped interrupting him. I think Biden would have been able to quiet Trump down a little bit more if he had kept direct eye contact with him. 

As a whole, Biden’s debate strategy was great in theory. Keeping the viewers’ attention, highlighting Trump’s mistakes, and appealing to the viewers’ responsibility to vote were all great debate tactics. However, they were all hindered by Trump’s immaturity and incompetence. Biden and the viewers at home would never have expected Trump to be that much of a childish mess during the debate. In spite of everything, Biden did a good job conveying his plans and convincing people to vote for him.