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Final presidential debate - Expert comment

Dr Trevor McCriskenDr Trevor McCrisken, Associate Professor, US Politics and International Studies, comments on tonight's final US Presidential debate:-

"The final presidential debate comes with less than a fortnight to go before election day. With over 30 million votes already cast, an awful lot of Americans have already made their minds up. But this is the last major platform for both candidates to convince any undecided voters which way to cast their vote and, perhaps more importantly, to motivate their supporters to actually turnout and vote in the election.

"Organisers are hoping for a more civil exchange of views than was seen in the first debate, but Trump's objections to the news that the moderator will use a mute option to prevent interruptions suggest it will be another ill-tempered affair.

"Biden will again call into question Trump's record in office, not least his handling of the coronavirus pandemic as cases continue to increase across the US. The president, having apparently recovered from COVID-19, will seek to downplay the seriousness of the virus and suggest Biden's policies would cripple the US economically.

"Trump wants to focus on Biden's foreign policy record as an excuse for calling into question his son Hunter's activities in Ukraine - but the president needs to be careful since his own relations with Ukraine led to his impeachment and Biden might hit back with questions about Trump's family members and their role in his administration.

"Amy Coney Barrett's impending confirmation as Supreme Court Justice will provide further controversial context to the debate. The conservative Trump appointee looks set to be confirmed by the Republican-led US Senate on Monday despite the election being days away. If Biden wins the White House and the Democrats win back the Senate how will they respond?

"Expect plenty of verbal fireworks and not a great deal of policy substance - it will no doubt be a spectacle but perhaps not the kind of debate that voters need so they can make an informed choice in this crucial election."

  • Dr McCrisken is co-author of The Ordinary Presidency of Donald J Trump, one of the first scholarly assessments of the Trump Administration.

22 October 2020

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