NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WAFB) - The final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, are set to square off in their final debate Thursday night. It will be one of the last high-profile opportunities for the trailing incumbent to change the trajectory of an increasingly contentious campaign.
Some advisers are urging Trump to trade his aggressive demeanor from the first debate for a lower-key style that puts Biden more squarely in the spotlight. But it’s unclear whether the President will listen.
Biden, who has stepped off the campaign trail in favor of debate prep, expects Trump to get intensely personal. The former Vice President and his inner circle see the President’s approach chiefly as an effort to distract from the coronavirus, its economic fallout and other crises.
With less than two weeks until Election Day, Biden is leading most national polls and has a narrower advantage in the battleground states that could decide the race. More than 42 million people have already cast their ballots. The debate, moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, is a final chance for both men to make their case to a television audience of tens of millions of voters.
“The rule is that last debates before the election have a big impact,” said Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss, who made clear the legacy of the candidates' first faceoff: “That was the most out-of-control presidential debate we have seen.”
The one-two punch of the first presidential debate and Trump’s the president’s three-day hospital stint after contracting COVID-19 rattled his base of support and triggered alarm among Republicans who fear the White House and Senate could be slipping away.
The initial debate’s belligerent tone was somehow fitting for what has been an extraordinarily ugly campaign. Amid heated clashes over the pandemic, the Supreme Court and the integrity of the election itself, Trump refused to condemn white supremacists who have supported him, telling one such group known as the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”
The two men frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, “Will you shut up, man?”
Aides have urged Trump, who has skipped debate prep, to show some restraint this time, allowing Biden to speak more and get himself in trouble with verbal gaffes and lapses. But the President has made no promises.
“Some people think, ‘Let him talk,’ because he loses his train (of thought), he just loses it and he doesn’t speak the train of thought,” Trump said in a town hall discussion taped at the White House Rose Garden and aired by Sinclair Broadcast Group on Wednesday evening. “But we’ll see what happens. I mean, you will have to be there.”
On Thursday night, in an effort to curtail interruptions, Trump and Biden will each have his microphone cut off while his rival delivers an opening two-minute answer to each of the six debate topics, the commission announced. The mute button won’t figure in the open discussion portion of the debate, but has drawn criticism from Trump.
“The mute is very unfair,” he said Wednesday as he left the White House for a campaign rally.
The above information is provided by the Associated Press.
Click here to report a typo.