President Donald Trump managed to restrain himself from the brutish disruptions of the first presidential election debate. But that is about all that can be said about his performance during his last chance to persuade voters that he deserves a second term.
Trump persisted in downplaying the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 222,000 Americans — the worst per capita death toll in the world – with his claim that “we’re learning to live with it.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered his most withering retort in the 90-minute face-off with his correction of Trump’s view. No, “we’re dying from it.”
Trump continued his fire hose of lies and distortions: No president has been tougher on Russia. No one has done more for the Black community since — maybe — Abraham Lincoln. No U.S. President ever built a better economy. He paid tens of millions in U.S. federal taxes, contrary to reports that he paid $750 in the first two years of his presidency and zero dollars in 10 previous years.
Trump’s attempts to accuse Biden and his family of trading on his clout as U.S. Vice President and warnings that a Biden administration would run the economy to ruin failed to land. Neither did his casting of Democratic governors and mayors create the apocalyptic scenes of a future he has attempted to equate with a Democratic win of the White House and, increasingly viable, a majority in the Senate.
Biden, by contrast, forecast a new leadership focused on national reconciliation, millions of new jobs in infrastructure and green energy and a president committed to leading all Americans, not just those who voted for him.
In short, Trump’s pressing of his distorted view of dystopian America likely did little to capture those few undecided voters exhausted by four years of conflict and chaos.