What to Know About the 2020 Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates

by Kelly R. Smith

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Donald Trump-Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Debate
Donald Trump-Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Debate

This article was updated on 10/07/20.

The much-awaited 2020 Presidential debates are upon us at last. President Donald Trump holds sway over the Republican corner, facing off against prior Vice President Joe Biden on the Democrat ticket.

There has been a question of whether the debates would be held at all. Some pundits bemoaned the COVID-19 pandemic. Nancy Pelosi has tried to shut them down more than once. Her rationale is that Trump is to be dismissed. The Washington Examiner quotes her as saying, “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts. I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate.”

The word on the street, however, is that Biden’s handlers are loathe to let him speak because of his continual gaffes and losing his place, mumbling, getting facts mixed up, and forgetting where he is. As for Trump, he is expected to speak off the cuff as usual but none of his inner circle is trying to take him out of the ring. Here are topics we might expect to be addressed.

Likely Debate Topics

  • The Trump and Biden Records. No surprise here; this is akin to a job interview. Trump has had great success with the economy, foreign relations, strengthening the military, and creating a robust economy. Biden had no real accomplishments as VP under former President Obama. Biden’s record on race relations is smoke and mirrors. Showing nepotism so his son could use government resources to make personal business deals might show its ugly head.


  • The Supreme Court. This will be an interesting topic. Trump is in a hurry to appoint a new judge before the election following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Democrats are currently in quite the tizzy over the prospect, and rightly so; United States Supreme Court Justice appointments are for life and the institution has “assumed” much more power over the years than the Constitution originally granted it. Truly, it has become a deity unto itself with virtually as much power as the executive branch.
  • COVID-19. This is where I expect to see a lot of fireworks. For a while now, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and the Far Left Wing have been showering fecal matter on Trump on this COVID-19 timeline topic. Their boilerplate line is mismanagement. Unfortunately, this observation doesn’t hold water and they know it (another reason to keep Biden from debating). According to cnnsnews, when Trump called for a travel ban from China right away, he was labeled a racist. When it worked they said he didn’t act soon enough. Can’t have it both ways and this will become obvious if the debate goes there. Biden is on the ropes here again; go with the party-line and be creamed by fact-checkers or avoid the subject and lose credibility.
  • The Economy. Once again, Joe will have a hard time. He and President Obama held sway over one of the most tepid recoveries ever and did their best to impede progress with “progressive” policy. Trump turned it around and produced the strongest economy in U.S. history.
  • Race and Violence in our Cities. This has risen to a critical level. BLM and Antifa are beating, burning, killing, and looting every day. Trump can list his attempts to rein it in and Biden’s record this year show that he has supported or at best turned a blind eye to the anarchy. And over the years he has misrepresented his position on race relations and his part in the civil rights movement when it was politically expedient.
  • The Integrity of the Election. This is such a broad and historied topic that it could go in any direction. Hanging chads, the electoral college, misplaced ballot boxes, bused-in voters, mail-in ballots, you name it. It is fodder for accusations but facts are facts. Only a narrow space is left for spin.

When and Where are the Debates?

The presidential debates are Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Oct. 15 in Miami, and Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tenn. The vice-presidential debate is Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They all start at 9 p.m. ET and will run 90 minutes without commercial interruption. The debates will be shown live on channels including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-Span. You will also be able to stream the debate live on WSJ.com and YouTube. Keep up with the books you love while you walk, run, or walk the dog with Audible.com.

I’m looking forward to the first of the 2020 Presidential debates, and the subsequent ones of course, although generally, the first sets the tone and is the most impressionable on voters. Stay tuned because I will be reporting on each one. Have you made up your mind? Please vote in the poll posted on the right sidebar of this page.

Results of the First Presidential Debate

Not much of substance came out of this debate. Trump supporters say he won; Biden supporters say he won. Everybody agrees that Wallace, the moderator, was in Biden’s corner. No surprise there. Since then Trump is recuperating from COVID-19 and Biden occasionally emerges from the bunker to make gaffes. His latest is that he claimed he is able to isolate himself because a black woman is keeping the grocery store shelves stocked for him. Say what?

The Vice-Presidential Debate

This will happen tonight. I don’t expect much from it but who knows? Expect Harris to attack strongly with rhetoric and Pence to have facts and figures. Stay tuned.

Update: And now it has transpired, for better or worse. In my opinion, Vice-President Pence took the gold, and Harris took the silver, and I understand that everyone’s opinion is different so hear me out and don’t judge. Harris was clearly uncomfortable. Pence was clearly in his element. That’s just setting the tone; Pence has been VP for a long time now and Harris is having to reverse almost all her opinions that she espoused when running against Biden for the nomination and accused him of many things, specifically of the Biden racist history. She is an intelligent woman looking for verbiage that can reconcile her history and her current pitch but it is an untenable position. She was either right before or she’s right now. She’s a liar either way. There is no middle ground outside of the beltway.

On the subject of:

  • Packing the Supreme Court should she and Biden win: Just as Joe Biden refused to answer to the American people on this issue during the first debate, so did Harris. The Constitution is clear; the number of Supreme Court Justices is up to the President and Congress. When pressed, she rambled about Abraham Lincoln.
  • Tax cuts: Biden has promised to eliminate Trump’s tax cuts on day 1, even during the lockdown when many Americans are not getting a paycheck anyway. Harris tried to back-peddle this. She said the plan is to double down on taxes and then distribute those funds to the people. Is this not redistribution of wealth? Of course it is. In the first place, why not let people keep the money they make? Biden says, “I’m not a Socialist,” but this is the basic tenet of American Democratic Socialism.

From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs

— Karl Marx
  • On the COVID-19 pandemic: Harris said, “The greatest failure of any president in the history of our country.” Whoa, back up here. When the Coronavirus first reached our shores, Trump enacted a travel ban with China. Biden immediately attacked him on it and called the action “xenophobic.” Now he says it wasn’t enough or soon enough.

Stay tuned for the next presidential debate. Meanwhile, please participate in the poll on the right-hand side of this page.



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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