Following the first Presidential debate where neither side scored a decisive knock out and which most outlets are characterizing as some version of “messy”, President Trump and Joe Biden both face a race to the finish, with only about a month left until November 3rd.
Soon voters across the country will begin to mail in ballots up to Election Day when millions more will show up to polls in person. Polls are tightening in key battleground states like Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, with the control of the Senate and House also at stake. There is speculation on both sides that the election will be decided in the courts and that it is unlikely the American people will wake up on November 4th with a clear winner announced.
Many of our friends and allies are predicting a big win for President Trump due to what might be called a “silent majority” of voters who see the American way of life threatened by socialism and the increasingly unrealistic proposals from the far left.
After the drag out fight during the last debate, where President Trump sought to wear down Joe Biden by challenging Biden’s statements during their two minute response periods, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) issued a statement on their consideration of rule changes to prohibit interruptions. But, like the first debate, both sides must agree to all rule changes or format changes. The commission’s statement read in part:
“Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the CPD said in a statement. “The CPD will be carefully considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly.”
The next presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden will take place on Oct. 15 in Miami, and it is currently scheduled to be a town hall format. They are scheduled to go head to head again in the final presidential debate on Oct. 22 in Nashville. Additionally, coming up on October 7 is the Vice Presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic VP nominee Kamala Harris.
President Trump and Melania’s COVID-19 diagnosis this week will undoubtedly impact the race and could affect the remaining debate schedule. During the first debate, the President hit hard on some major themes that are moving voters: rebuilding the economy, immigration, and taxes. During the next month, the President should focus his message on defeating the virus (now personally) and rebuilding the economy.
Most Americans chief concern according to polls is COVID-19 and the President now speak personally about the virus. This diagnosis was just one of the many unforeseen twists of this late election season, following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg which raises the stakes of the election even higher. First and foremost, the President needs to rest and take care of himself. At his age it is amazing that the President can run such a rigorous schedule and deal will the enormous weight of the Presidency while being unfairly attacked constantly. The President needs to recover while urging Americans to protect themselves, and stay publicly optimistic about a vaccine.
The President also must focus on rebuilding the economy. After being locked down for months, most Americans are ready to get back to work and most voters are ready to safely open school. The American economy has great potential as the 2019 statistics have showed: the lowest unemployment level in a half decade with women and minorities leading the way. President Trump’s pro-growth policies grew the economy quickly after the anemic growth of the Obama years. The same policies of low taxes and less regulations can put millions of people back to work again. Voters want to feel optimistic about both defeating the virus and rebuilding the economy.
By focusing on this simple messaging, the President can avoid the pitfalls of addressing too many topics at once and veering off into petty political attacks, oftentimes punching below his weight. I hope the President is able to rest, recover and use this opportunity to make his recovery from COVID-19 a personal story that is emblematic of the country’s strength to pull through this. While focusing on defeating the virus the President and his team must also remind voters that he is the best qualified candidate to rebuild the economy and bring jobs back. With only a month left, message discipline will be an important aspect of keeping the national discussion focused positively on Americans two biggest concerns.