Trump and Joe Toe-to-(Socially Distanced) Toe: Trump’s Got to Keep in Good Spirits and Keep Up the Pressure

Part two of a two-part series on the first Presidential Debate.

By Al Perrotta Published on September 28, 2020

Tuesday night at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, President Donald J. Trump will face former Vice President Joe Biden in their first Presidential Debate. 

Last time, we talked about what Biden has to do to win the debate. In short, he’s got to beat Father Time, not Donald Trump. He’s got to go a full 90 minutes, convincing voters he’s still Joe and not some angry, confused socialist-stuffed shell of his old self. 

Now what does Donald Trump have to do, especially knowing that if Joe Biden goes 90 minutes without blowing a gasket or valve or his own life story he will be declared the winner?

Trump isn’t doing typical debate prep. He’s meeting with advisers like Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie. What’s the point of formal debate prep? That’s what his press conferences are. Second, there’s no way to predict what sort of strange things will come out of Biden’s mouth. I mean, last week Biden said Trump was responsible for every single COVID death in America. Given the weird stuff that Biden comes up with, the best you could do, prep wise, is feed Rudy LSD then try a mock debate against that.

Still, Trump can prepare a strategy.

Donald Trump, Strategic Thinker

Let’s start with something we tend not to associate with President Trump and his debate style. He is strategic. For example, when facing Ted Cruz for the first time, he knew Cruz was a champion debater, and could take him in a fair exchange. So he deliberately kept interrupting so Cruz couldn’t lay a glove on him. In his second debate with Hillary, days after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, Trump showed up with three of Bill Clinton’s sex abuse accusers. Why? To signal he wasn’t going to go down without a fight. “You want to sling mud, Hillary? I’ve got three truckloads right there.” 

So what does he do this time? He’s not facing a champion debater. Or two rows of smart, veteran politicians. (I mean, he defeated Christie, Jeb Bush, the clever Carly Fiorina and the great Mike Huckabee, among others.) He is not facing a Hillary Clinton, who throws elbows and gnaws flesh, like Mike Tyson. He is facing Joe Biden. A Joe Biden that now tends to get angry when pressed and lost when tired.

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So what’s Trump’s primary task: Keep upbeat and keep up the steady pressure. 

Trump’s case against Biden is actually rather simple. And he’s been saying it in recent days: “I’ve done more in 47 months than Biden did in 47 years.” Trump has the record. Biden has his record. If Joe could solve any national and international problems why didn’t he do it already? Trump can argue he has spent four years cleaning up Joe’s messes.

Comparing Records

Stick to the facts. Stick to the accomplishments. Stick to comparisons.

  • “You created a crime bill that unfairly incarcerated millions of black men. I achieved prison reform.”
  • “You brought economic stagnation and promise more shutdowns. I brought an economic boom once and I’m doing it again.
  • “You sent manufacturing overseas and said it couldn’t come back. I brought it back anyway.”
  • “I support the police. Your campaign is bailing out wannabe cop killers. You can’t even call out Antifa or BLM by name.”
  • “I say there will never be socialism in the United States as long as I am president. You signed a radical compact with socialist Bernie Sanders and AOC.”
  • “I will protect the 2nd Amendment. You’ve got Beto O’Rourke all set to seize our guns.”
  • “I support the sanctity of life. You’re now beholden to the abortion industry.”
  • “I put up a border wall and fight sanctuary cities. You and Kamala and Bernie and AOC want open borders and sanctuary for MS-13 gang members.”
  • “I appoint justices who uphold the Constitution. You’re beholden to people like llhan Omar who want to chuck our whole system.”
  • “You voted for the Gulf War. I’m bringing the troops home.”
  • “You sat around and watched ISIS grow. I eliminated the caliphate and took out ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi.”
  • “You gave billions to Iran. I took out their terrorist mastermind. Got out of the dangerous Iran Nuke Deal and have peace breaking out in the Middle East.”

My Final Advice to the President

Be succinct. Sharp, quick punches. No long winded answers. Most importantly, do not give Biden time to rest. Do not let him catch his breath. 

The satire site Babylon Bee is not too far off the mark.

In other words, turn up the charm, turn up the humor, keep in command. Keep relaxed, but keep up the pressure. Keep questioning Joe’s shifting positions. If Joe goes the attack, know that he cannot sustain it. Know that anywhere he goes, you can counter. 

For example, if he jumps on you for not committing to a peaceful transfer of power, say “If I lose a fair election, I promise I will give you what you and Obama didn’t give me.”

If Joe brings up your taxes, hit the opening. “Do you really want to get into family finances, Joe? I went into government and it cost my family millions. You went into government, and your family used your government connections to make billions.” Then smile, “Besides, who does America want as president. Someone smart enough to keep his taxes low or someone who wants to send everyone’s taxes sky high?”

Know there’s nothing Joe can throw at you that the White House reporters haven’t already tried. And if it is false, you have a ready answer. “You made that one up, Joe. Just like you made up going to a black college. Like you made up being arrested going to see Nelson Mandela. Like you made up being the first in your coal-mining family to go to college. Like you … well, you know I can go on and on, Joe.”

And know that you have countless ways to trigger him. Just bring up Hunter, in a nice way. “Are you hesitant to blame China for the COVID virus because they gave $1.5 BILLION to your kid?” And as I said last week, if he makes the mistake of bringing your kids up, become the indignant father. Nail him for his direct involvement in the three years of living hell your family had to endure because of the Russia conspiracy. Then mention the $3.5 million given Hunter by a Russian oligarch. 

You’ve got the record. You’ve got the energy. And Joe is run by the riot-loving radicals. And is running on fumes.

Keep the pace fast, keep warm and in good cheer. The upbeat, happier candidate usually wins. And know, that with the pressure on, sooner or later Joe Biden will hang himself. Or shrivel. Or prove that nice Uncle Joe is dead and gone. And wonder of wonders, you are the nice one on stage. And fit to continue leading.


Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream and co-author, with @JZmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration. You can follow him at @StreamingAl. And if you aren’t already, please follow The Stream on Twitter at @Streamdotorg. And on Parler @TheStream.

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