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.

Joe Biden’s History on Race Relations and Civil Rights

by Kelly R. Smith

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(Uncle) Joe Biden describing Barack Obama
(Uncle) Joe Biden describing Barack Obama

Ex-Vice President Joe Biden is the Democrat party’s pick for Presidential nominee, running against President Donald Trump. Two of his main themes he is using to describe himself is being a standard-bearer for race relations and hero of the working class. But are those attributes correct or more Beltway hype? We’ll look at the former theme. We are entitled to our opinions but not our facts.

Biden’s History on His Part in the Civil Rights Movement

Biden talks of of being a prior public defender to point out his civil rights bona fides on the campaign trail. “I came out of the civil rights movement,” Biden said in February and frequently on the campaign trail.

But did he? In an article from The Intercept, we’re told that, “during Biden’s first run for the presidency, in 1987, the then-senator frequently described himself as a teenage civil rights activist, only to withdraw those claims later. More than three decades later, having served under the first black president, Biden seems to have reversed himself again, and now describes himself as a participant in desegregation protests in his youth.” Why all the flip-flops? Is it political expediency, or a truly faulty memory as his current many gaffes would have us believe?

The Intercept goes on to report Biden saying in speeches, “When I marched in the civil rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program; I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes, and we changed attitudes.”

But alas, not true again. Biden’s aides tried, unsuccessfully, to nudge him back on script, reminding him that he had not, personally, marched. He would acknowledge the “error” each time he was reminded of it and then repeat it on the campaign trail. It was just too good of a sentimental talking-point to give up.

How about this one. The Washingtonpost.com reported Biden’s quote, “This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid. I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island.

— Former vice president Joe Biden, in remarks in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 11

“After he [Mandela] got free and became president, he came to Washington and came to my office. He threw his arms around me and said, ‘I want to say thank you.’ I said, ‘What are you thanking me for, Mr. President?’ He said: ‘You tried to see me. You got arrested trying to see me.’”

— Biden, in remarks in Las Vegas on Feb. 16

The problem? None of it ever happened. Pure fiction. It’s a bit too elaborate to be a momentary lapse of reason and too well spoken to be one of his infamous gaffes (with a well-crafted follow-up.

Joe Biden, Integration, and Segregation

Biden seems to be on the flip-flop train on these issues as well. In 1975, he opposed the federally-mandated busing policy that was designed to terminate segregation in public schools. However, in the past few decades, he has maintained he actually wanted desegregation but believed the policy of busing would not achieve it. Last year, he stated he had voted heroically to protect busing, which is contrary to the actual facts.

According to the Washington Examiner, Biden said, “I think the concept of busing … that we are going to integrate people so that they all have the same access and they learn to grow up with one another and all the rest, is a rejection of the whole movement of black pride,” said Biden. Desegregation, he argued, was “a rejection of the entire black awareness concept, where black is beautiful, black culture should be studied; and the cultural awareness of the importance of their own identity, their own individuality.” So at this point Biden is back to the point of wanting to separate the races.

Biden was also a supporter of an anti-busing amendment offered by Sen. Robert Byrd, a senator from West Virginia and a Democrat. Byrd had denounced his racist past, which included being a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan as well as attaining the high title of kleagle and exalted cyclops of his local chapter.

“I have never, ever, ever voted for anything I thought was wrong,” said Biden to three former senior aides in Obama’s White House. “In the middle of the single most extensive busing order in all the United States history, in my state, I voted against an amendment, cast the deciding vote, to allow courts to keep busing as a remedy. Because there are some things that are worth losing over.”

Biden’s VP Choice of Kamala Harris

“There are a number of women of color. There are Latino women. There are Asian. There are — across the board. And we’re just under way now in the hard vet of going into the deep background checks that take anywhere from six to eight weeks to be done,” Biden said during a campaign speech in Wilmington, Delaware.

So, in the end, he picked Kamala Harris. There are several possible reasons both for and against this choice and it is impossible to know for anyone who’s not a fly on the wall in back-door campaign meetings. In other words, we can all look at the facts and speculate as to relevance. Historically, the choice is — what voting block a VP can bring to the table? And, what kind of attack dog is that person? This is a reasonable approach for both parties and does not use the term “dog” in a pejorative sense.

As for Harris, she’s a woman. Check. She can attack furiously. Check; especially since Biden can’t do it effectively while ensconced in his bunker “campaigning” online. Person of color? Hmm. Mom is Indian, dad is Jamaican. That’s definitely color-ish but not “Black” or “African-American.” There are a lot of Black American leaders that have a problem with this.

Furthermore, her heritage includes field-hand slave-owners. Wouldn’t this be something Biden would be wanting to distance himself from? Certainly it worked to Obama’s advantage that Michelle Obama’s ancestors were slaves. But to go from that to one’s heritage actually being slave-owners? Kind of counterproductive on Biden’s part if he wants the Black Lives Matter vote.

There has been a lot of speculation in the media that since Biden’s nomination is a done-deal and he isn’t expected to last four years, health-wise or cognitively, it’s important to have a successor in the wings that is young and radical to take over and represent The Squad and the Far Left. Is this reality or conspiracy theory fodder? I don’t know. You decide.

This has been a glimpse into Joe Biden’s history on race relations and civil rights. It is certainly not an exhaustive account of someone who’s made a career out of sausage-making politics. But it does cast a light on the fact that a penchant for flip-flopping might indeed not bode well for promises made after the votes are counted.

More on Biden

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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.

What is a Brokered Convention During a Presidential Primary?

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Preparing for a brokered convention
Preparing for a brokered convention

A brokered convention is also called an open convention and is closely related to, but not the same as, a contested convention. It can happen during a presidential election any time a political party fails to choose a nominee on the first round of delegate voting at the party’s nominating convention . Once the initial ballot or vote has happened, and no one candidate has garnered a majority of the delegates’ votes, the convention is then considered to be in brokered status; thereafter the nomination is finalized via a process of alternating political horse trading (superdelegate vote trading), and additional re-votes.

What are Superdelegates?

According to Merriam-Webster, a superdelegate, or super-delegate if you prefer, is “a person who is chosen as a delegate to a political party’s presidential nominating convention because of his or her status as a leader or official within the party and who is free to vote for any candidate regardless of the results of the popular vote in primary elections and caucuses preceding the convention. They were invented by the Democrats after the 1980 election in the expectation that in any future close nomination race, they would line up behind the establishment candidate and head off the possibility of a ruinous floor fight at the convention.”

As of this writing there has been much speculation of a brokered convention because there are still so many candidates on the Democrat side. At the moment Bernie Sanders is the top dog with a Democrat Socialist message but that could change at any moment.

The History of Brokered Conventions

From a historical point of view, before primary elections, brokered conventions happened often. This was especially of the Democrat party. But then after the advent of television ads and modern-style presidential campaigns, few brokered conventions have happened on the Republican side, due to increased voter participation, even though a couple of occurrences of contested conventions have happened. The last real brokered convention occurred in 1952, between Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Sen. Robert Taft.

A contested convention is the first step to a brokered convention. This effectively means that no one candidate has reached the national convention with a majority of delegates. When that happens, at the convention, a vote is held.

The Republican’s last contested convention battle was in 1976 when Ronald Reagan attempted and failed to remove the incumbent Gerald Ford from the ticket after Ford failed to secure enough delegates to earn the nomination. Prior to that, a contested convention nearly occurred in 1960 when Nelson Rockefeller was competing against Richard Nixon.

So that’s what a brokered convention is. As much as voters of the losing party always laments the seeming folly of the electoral college, the brokered convention is just another step removed from the will of the people and should be avoided when at all possible.

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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.