Plenty of venom to sling in Trump vs Biden debate

There'll be no handshake but venom to spare when Donald Trump and Joe Biden meet in Cleveland for the first of three televised debates that could shake up an already volatile race for the White House. Covid-19 restrictions will give the debate moderated by Fox News presenter Chris Wallace a...



Wednesday, September 30, 2020

There'll be no handshake but venom to spare when Donald Trump and Joe Biden meet in Cleveland for the first of three televised debates that could shake up an already volatile race for the White House.

Covid-19 restrictions will give the debate moderated by Fox News presenter Chris Wallace a streamlined look with a small audience, and there will not be a shaking of hands at the start.

What the 90-minute clash, which starts this morning at nine o'clock, Hong Kong time, will have is a chance for Americans to see Trump, 74, and Biden, 77, go head to head.

With Trump claiming the challenger is brain dead - "Biden doesn't know he's alive" - and Biden branding the president "a toxic presence," it will be anything but a polite meeting.

Trump has focused on his claim that Biden takes performance-enhancing drugs.

Biden has laughed off the suggestion, but Trump, a master of making slurs stick, has doubled down.

"Joe Biden just announced that he will not agree to a drug test," Trump tweeted. "Gee, I wonder why?"

A Biden campaign manager responded in kind, saying if Trump wants the debate to be conducted through urine samples he can have it.

Significantly behind in the polls, Trump, arguably, has little to lose.

The New York Times has just revealed details of Trump tax returns, showing the self-proclaimed billionaire has avoided paying almost all federal income taxes.

But he goes to Cleveland with what he hopes will be his own silver bullet - the nomination of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Democrats are crying foul over the rushed timing on the eve of an election, but Trump expects his court play to energize conservatives.

Biden, as frontrunner, wants to remain steady amid attacks, but he has a reputation for losing his cool at times. "I hope I don't get baited into a brawl with this guy, because that's the only place he's comfortable," he said.

Biden will instead try to keep his sights trained on the coronavirus. For polls show that about two-thirds of Americans believe Trump has failed to handle the pandemic properly.

And the most fiery moments may come when Biden paints Trump as a playboy who pretends to be a friend of the white working class.

The Washington Post editorial board is also behind Biden, saying in a commentary endorsing him that Trump had few accomplishments in his first term and no agenda for his second, plus a lack of "respect for other human beings."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE