The debate

Richard Koritz
Posted 6/26/24

The Journal’s deadline for me to submit my column is noon on Tuesdays for the Friday publication. The debate is on Thursday, which clearly indicates I have either a great understanding of the …

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The debate


The Journal’s deadline for me to submit my column is noon on Tuesdays for the Friday publication. The debate is on Thursday, which clearly indicates I have either a great understanding of the future or I’m blowing smoke. I’ll try for the middle and let the reader decide.

This debate is entirely out of the normal political sequence. Both the Republicans and the Democrats have yet to formally nominate their candidate. In fact, three states, New York, Colorado and Utah are holding their primaries on Tuesday. Almost all pundits assume the race will be a Biden/Trump rematch. The betting odds certainly favor that conclusion, but the cynic in me detests assumptions since they are many times proven wrong.

For this debate, Biden has ensconced himself at Camp David for a week of preparation. Biden is reported to be doing numerous mock debates with a multitude of advisors present to assist him and suggest answers to prospective questions.

Preparation has great value, but over preparation comes with significant risks. If you are trying to memorize short and concise answers that reflect your campaign, there is the distinct chance that during the debate you will seek to remember that grat answer and simply flub the question. You are also at risk of mixing up answers when you seek to provide “canned” answers.

Trump on the other hand has chosen to campaign and not, at least so far as the public has seen, hunker down and do traditional debate preparation. The risk with this approach is that you have not gained a handle on the nuances of some issues, and you may be at risk of appearing unprepared. Thursday’s debate will give some evidence about which style of preparation was most effective.

Both campaigns have been running negative ads demeaning the other candidate. The ads from both campaigns may well backfire on their respective campaigns. Trump’s campaign verbiage refers to Biden as “Sleepy Joe  and Crooked Joe.” Those terms are negative, and most people simply tire of them.

If Biden is energetic and effectively responsive during the debate, it will go a long way in crushing Trump’s attacks on Biden. In like manner, the Biden campaign touts that Trump is a “convicted felon.” It is obvious to many in the legal community that Trump’s New York prosecution/conviction faces certain appeals that may very well overturn the conviction. These ads are not helping either campaign provide a message of what their candidate stands for.

We all watch the debates with our own biases and opinions. Never forget that. After the debate, wait a day or two before you make any final conclusions as to who presented the better message and factually responded to the questions of the moderators.

Also remember that the moderators come into the debate with their own biases and opinions. There is nothing wrong with that and professional journalists seek to minimize that. When you review the debate in your mind, please give some thought to the following questions before you make a final determination as to who provided the best position to gain your vote.

Did the candidates and moderators come prepared for the debate?

Were the candidates and moderators respectful and civil towards each other?

Were the questions to the candidates fair and unbiased?

Did the candidates answer the question asked, or did they try to deflect to another issue?

Did the candidates and moderators hold each other accountable for the responses?

Did the candidates adhere to the rules of the debate format?

Were you able to understand the responses of the candidates?

The debate format is again very different. There is no audience. The candidates cannot consult with their staffs during the two scheduled breaks in the 90-minute format. They can only bring a notepad, pen and a bottle of water to the podium and are expressly denied the ability to have any notes when they take the podium. Biden tends to rely on notes and Trump relies heavily on audience responses to his speeches. This format will be difficult for both candidates and only the debate itself will determine which candidate prevailed.

Hope you enjoyed the debate and your post-debate analysis.