Biden’s plan fails but still ‘all to play for’ following US presidential debate

Biden’s plan fails but still ‘all to play for’ following US presidential debate

WITH the European Championships heating up, I hope I will be forgiven for employing some footballing analogies to capture what happened during CNN’s big Presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Most political debates turn out to be some form of score draw, but this one a bit of a 3-0 win for Donald Trump.

In challenging Trump to a debate, the Biden campaign had hoped to turn the tables on their opponent by correcting the impression that Biden is too old for the job and exposing Trump as an unhinged convicted felon.

That game plan failed.

Biden looked and sounded frail and addled while Trump was, by his standards, restrained although many of his statements would not stand up even to some elementary fact checking.

President Joe Biden and Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump participate in the CNN Presidential Debate at the CNN Studios on June 27 in Atlanta, Georgia

In a TV debate, images are vital and Trump, while only three years younger than his opponent looked more focused and more vigorous.

After years of experience with ‘The Apprentice’, Trump knows how to get the best out of TV cameras.

There was a lot not to like about his performance, but in a debate it’s all about the winner and the loser.

Trump had the better of things on that particular debate stage, but the campaign goes on.

The dramatic nature of Biden’s underperformance, has naturally given rise to ‘what’s next’ questions.

There are those who argue that the Democrats need to change their team, replacing Biden with a younger candidate, but that is easier said than done.

Having won the Democratic primaries, Biden has the equivalent of a contract to be the party’s candidate in November.

Unless he steps down voluntarily, replacing him would be very messy.

To return to my footballing theme, we have now reached the play-off stages with just four months to go before the decider in early November.

There are lots of potential back-up candidates, but there is no guarantee that turning to the bench will be a campaign game-changer.

American political history is littered with stories of Governors with stellar records in State politics who bombed when exposed to the intense scrutiny of an American Presidential campaign.

This election remains a neck and neck contest. It will be hard fought to the end and, as they say, it is still ‘all to play for’.

 Daniel Mulhall is a former Irish Ambassador in London and Washington DC. His latest book is Pilgrim Soul: W.B. Yeats and the Ireland of his time (Dublin: New Island Books 2023)