President Donald Trump and Joe Biden will face each other on six major issues, including the controversial appointment of a judge to the Supreme Court and the health crisis that is shaking the country.
After a start to the presidential campaign disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, find themselves, Tuesday, September 29, face to face on a television set for the first debate before the election of November 3. The two septuagenarians will debate from 9 p.m and will have ninety minutes to convince voters.
No risk of physical confrontation: the two candidates will keep their distance and they are not expected to shake hands. The audience on the set will also be small, only 80 to 90 people – previously tested negative for Covid-19 – will attend the debate held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
President Trump and Biden will not have a chance to make an opening statement, and Fox News presenter Chris Wallace will host the hostilities. This experienced journalist, known for his uncompromising questions within the conservative channel, will interview the two candidates on six pre-established themes, which they will have to answer for fifteen minutes. The first question will be for Donald Trump.
The Critical Impact of Covid-19
Joe Biden will likely appear masked, to underscore the severity of the pandemic that Donald Trump is accused of downplaying, as journalist Bob Woodward revealed in a book titled Rage. Since then, the president has been reduced to promises. “We will have enough vaccines for all American soon, he promised, making one of his campaign arguments
Tuesday’s debate comes as the United States has passed the milestone of 200,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. “The COVID will be the third cause of death this year in the United States, more than accidents, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease”, tweeted Tom Frieden, former director of the centers for the prevention and fight against diseases.
Balance sheets to defend
Confronted with numerous protests against racism and the alarming statistics of the Covid-19 epidemic in the United States, Donald Trump has constantly blamed the situation on others without ever making a mea culpa. Joe Biden will endeavor to send him back to his balance sheet.
Entering politics half a century ago, Joe Biden, senator then vice-president of Barack Obama (from 1988 to 2016), hopes that his third attempt for the White House (he had already run for the Democratic primaries in 1988 and 2008) will be the correct one. This debate is an opportunity for him to relaunch his campaign. He has organized events in several states and granted interviews regularly, but the Covid-19 has not allowed him to make his comeback on stage. Although in the lead in the polls, he will have to impose himself while providing concise answers and, above all, avoid the blunders he is used to making.
The former Democratic Vice President has shown repeatedly during the campaign that he sometimes has difficulty controlling himself in the face of Donald Trump’s repeated personal attacks on him. For weeks, the tenant of the White House has mocked the physical and mental capacities of “Sleepy Joe” (“Joe asleep”), presenting him as a puppet manipulated by the “radical left”.
Polls show that the Trump team’s repeated attacks on the mental health of Joe Biden, 77, have left their mark on public opinion. Any hesitation by the Democratic candidate during the debate will thus be ruthlessly exploited by the president’s team on social networks
A highly watched Supreme Court appointment
Between the death on September 18 of progressive Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the presidential election on November 3, the outgoing US president has a historic opportunity to bolster his conservative electorate. He intends to arrive at this meeting crowned with his base, the choice of Amy Coney Barrett (also nicknamed “ACB”), magistrate known for her traditionalist religious convictions, to sit on the highest American court.
He hopes to galvanize the Christian right, on which he relied heavily in his surprise election in 2016, and beyond the entire conservative camp, especially all those who want to see the Supreme Court reverse its judgment of 1973 (Roe v . Wade) legalizing the right of American women to terminate their pregnancy. He predicted a “rapid” confirmation of this appointment by the Senate, where Republicans are in the majority.
Joe Biden, for his part, reiterated his call to the Senate not to “take a decision” before the presidential election , believing that this appointment would strengthen the conservative majority within this key institution which settles the great debates of society, such as the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare , which “ACB” could come back to.
Economic crisis and explosion of unemployment
Donald Trump’s handling of the health crisis and its economic consequences has affected the Republican president’s popularity with voters. At the end of March, shortly after the paralysis of the American economy, Republicans and Democrats almost unanimously adopted a historic plan of 2,200 billion dollars (approximately 1,900 billion euros). It included funds for SMEs, a moratorium to prevent evictions and $ 600 a week aid for the unemployed, and had been supplemented by $ 500 billion in new measures by the end of April.
This plan did not prevent layoffs: in one week, 6.6 million Americans were registered as unemployed, unprecedented. While half of the 22 million jobs destroyed in the spring have been recreated, 12.6 million people still benefit from unemployment. The US Federal Bank is now forecasting 7.6% unemployment in 2020.
Growing racial tensions
The murder of George Floyd, an African-American suffocated below the knee of a white policeman on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, mobilized hundreds of thousands of Americans. Across the country, citizens marched to denounce “systemic” racism in the United States.
But the great ecumenical mobilization at the start of the summer gave way to incidents, such as Wednesday, September 23, after the Kentucky attorney general’s decision not to prosecute the two police officers responsible for the death of nurse Breonna Taylor, 26 years old, killed in her sleep on March 13 in Louisville. Two policemen sustained minor gunshot wounds. The suspect, a 26-year-old man, was arrested. On Thursday evening, several hundred protesters again defied the curfew.
The country has not emerged from the vicious circle which sees anti-racist demonstrations degenerate, the cities – generally democratic – caught in the cycle of repression, the police, exasperated after months of unrest, the far right delighted to put in relief. oil on the fire. Donald Trump tries to take advantage of these incidents by posing as a defender of “law and order” and regularly denounces the “looters” and “anarchists” of the anti-racist movement.
During an event organized Friday in Atlanta, the president-candidate assured that the Black Lives Matter movement, at the origin of many demonstrations across the country, “was doing a lot of harm to the black community” . His opponent at the polls, Democrat Joe Biden, said he “understood the frustration” of the protesters, while calling for calm.
The conditions for holding the poll
Outpaced in the polls, the president still refuses to commit to guaranteeing a peaceful passage of power if he is beaten by his Democratic rival. Mr. Trump regularly complains about the conditions of the organization of the election and claims, without supporting evidence, that postal voting is a source of potential fraud. He also appeared to call for an outright cancellation of the mailed ballots. Donald Trump, who himself has already voted by mail, had already threatened not to recognize the results of the 2016 presidential election, when he faced Hillary Clinton.
The outcome of the vote will be decided before the Supreme Court, also declared Donald Trump. According to him, this assumption justifies that the seat left vacant by the death, on September 18, of the judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg be filled as quickly as possible.
The meeting between the two candidates actually comes just two days after the revelations of the New York Times on the heritage of Donald Trump. According to the American daily, which published information on twenty years of the billionaire’s tax returns on Sunday, Mr. Trump only paid $ 750 in federal taxes in 2016, the year he was elected president of the states. United, then as many in 2017. His tax situation, which he has always refused to make public, should therefore also figure prominently in the discussions.
A few hours before the televised duel, Joe Biden also made public his tax forms for the year 2019. According to the documents, posted on the Democratic candidate’s website, he and his wife paid $ 299,346 federal taxes last year.
The two opponents for the presidency will meet again for two other debates, scheduled for October 15 and 22, respectively in Miami (Florida) and Nashville (Tennessee). Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence will face Joe Biden’s running mate, Senator and former prosecutor Kamala Harris on October 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah.