The final debate of the 2020 presidential season is in the books. Partisans on both sides will claim that their candidate was obviously the winner. But the American people – 50,000,000 of whom have already voted – will have the final say. That, however, will not deter Donald Trump from spinning furiously in a desperate attempt to maintain relevance.
Trump already started his vain and impotent PR campaign to boost his fragile ego. In the minutes following the debate's conclusion he tweeted eight Twitter polls posted by his true believers like Glenn Beck's TheBlaze. These, of course, are not real surveys of scientifically selected voters. They just represent the anguish of Deplorables clawing for some measure of relief in the face of defeat. Trump also retweeted a flurry of Trump-fluffing sycophants who hailed his “victorious” performance. They included strident sycophants like his Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, Rush Limbaugh, Kellyanne Conway, GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy, and the NRA.
Back in the real world, Trump was the unanimous loser in the first three credible polls conducted after the debate. CNN's poll called the win for Biden by 53% to 39%. Data for Progress put it at 52% to 41%. And YouGov had Biden with 54% over Trump's 35%. All of these polls gave Biden a double digit lead among voters who watched the debate. And CNN's poll had additional bad news for Trump:
“Viewers once again said that Biden's criticisms of Trump were largely fair (73% said they were fair, 26% unfair), and they split over whether Trump's attacks on Biden were fair (50% said yes, 49% no).
“All told, though, the debate did not do much to move impressions of either candidate. Favorable views of Biden before the debate stood at 55%, and they held steady at 56% in post-debate interviews. Likewise, Trump's numbers held steady, with 42% saying they had a favorable view of the President in interviews conducted before Thursday's debate and 41% saying the same afterward.”
If the post-debate standings of the candidates don't move, that's a win for Biden who is already in the lead. Trump is the one who needed to create some momentum. But he failed. That's because his message during the debate was typical of his unhinged cult rally rhetoric (transcript here).
The moderator, Kristen Welker, began the debate by asking the candidates to “be specific: how would you lead the country during this next stage of the coronavirus crisis?” Trump lied in the first sentence of his first answer saying that “2.2 million people, modeled out, were expected to die.” But that was only a projection of what to expect if literally nothing was done. And while Trump indeed did next to nothing, many state governors took control and implemented mitigating measures like shutting down certain businesses, limiting group gatherings, providing testing, and mandating masks.
The remainder of Trump's response was focused solely on false representations of alleged accomplishments and flagrant lies about spikes being gone in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, all of which are suffering record high rates of cases and fatalities.. He never specifically addressed what he would do to “lead the country during this next stage of the coronavirus crisis?” But he did repeat his ludicrous claim that “we're rounding the corner, it's going away.”
The final question asked each candidate what they would say during their inauguration to the people who did not vote for them. Trump completely ignored the question. He talked only about the past and made wild assertions about what Biden would do. That's what he would say in his inauguration speech? Well, it would still be a slight improvement over his first “American Carnage” inaugural. However, he did surpass his previous record for lying in a debate, which is quite a feat.
Finally, it should be noted that Trump praised Welker during the debate saying “By the way, so far, I respect very much the way you're handling this, I have to say.” Remember that when he starts ranting about how biased and rude and hateful she was, which he already started prior to the debate saying that “Kristen Welker is terrible, I mean she is totally partisan.” It's the same sort of hostility he showed prior to Lesley Stahl's 60 Minutes interview. It is, in fact, all he knows how to do.
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