President Trump’s Debate Challenge

By Grace Vuoto

During the first presidential debate, set to air on CNN June 27th, the current Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump has one primary task: stop the fear-mongering campaign against him. If he can reassure the public that he can stay calm, he will win the debate—and be that much closer to winning the election.

President Joe Biden is weak with voters on the two key issues that are most urgent: inflation and the border crisis. As a result, he cannot focus the debate on these problems. He has to deflect from his failed policies by vilifying Trump; Biden will therefore fan the flames of character assassination as much as he can.

There are four main prongs to this verbal assault. The first is to highlight that Trump is a convicted felon and is unfit to serve in high office ever again. The second charge is to label him a “threat to democracy,” especially based on his previous comments that he will seek revenge for the politicized indictments against him and he will be “a dictator” on the first day of his presidency in order to restore order at the border. The third censure will be that he is an “insurrectionist” and came dangerously close, in the leftist mind, to blocking Biden from taking office after the 2020 election. And the fourth invective will be to pin the overturning of Roe. V Wade on Trump and warn of more dangerous restrictions to women’s rights; in other words, Biden will attempt to portray Trump as a misogynist who seeks to oppress women.

In summary, this is the tar and feathers that will be used: convict, an imminent threat to democracy, insurrectionist and misogynist. Biden’s best hope is to trap his opponent into discussing Trump’s favorite topic: himself. The Democratic strategy is to use Trump’s vanity against him. Trump loves to be at the center of attention; hence, they hope to bait him into putting himself at the nucleus of every conversation so they can demonize him relentlessly.

The more Trump falls into the trap and discusses himself, even to defend against all these phony charges, the more Biden will win the debate.  Conversely, the less Trump falls into the quicksand, the greater will be his victory.

Some might advise that Trump is a terrific counterpuncher and can easily fire back at these insults. But this will put him on the defensive in a war of words that he will ultimately lose; Biden will appear to be a steady hand in the storm. Yet, if Trump puts a spotlight on every domestic and foreign policy that is disastrous on Biden’s watch, the public will recall who the real Donald Trump is, rather than the caricature the mainstream media has created. They will recall the man who led America in peace and prosperity prior to the pandemic.

It is also a waste of time for Trump to directly bring up Biden’s cognitive struggles or his age. These are already rampant concerns among the electorate. Biden’s declining faculties are irrelevant to voters if the contrast is between senility and the end of the republic as we know it. Many will choose senility as the lesser of two evils. Trump’s only play is to expose this fear as another silly charade.

Trump has to show that he is as disciplined as he can be tough and resilient. If he stakes the higher ground of policy throughout the debate, Biden will be exposed as an emperor without clothes.

-Grace Vuoto, Ph.D. is a political commentator and columnist. She can be heard Wednesday mornings at 9:00 am on The Kuhner Report WRKO-AM 680. She is also Co-host of “The Conversation with Stephen and Grace,” Saturday mornings, 11:00-1:00 pm, on iHeart’s WXTK 95.1 FM.

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