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How Trump-Biden debate to affect US presidential election?

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

September 29, the first debate will take place at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland
11:00, 25 September 2020

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast
The Daily Beast

September 29, the first debate will take place at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, with the participation of US President Donald Trump and his opponent and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a politician with 47 years of experience in the civil service. Head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Vice President of the United States in 2009-2017. The debate is one of the essential attributes of any election campaign in the United States and has a significant impact on public opinion in relation to candidates for government office.

Debates are usually watched by a large number of viewers. In 2016, 86 million Americans watched the verbal battles between Trump and his opponent, Hillary Clinton. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic and anti-government protests in American cities, accompanied by violence and pogroms, the rating of the owner of the Oval Office has dropped considerably. Trump is supported by 43.2% of Americans, and 50.3% of voters are ready to vote for Biden. For Ukrainian diplomacy, the Cleveland debates are of particular importance, since their results will make it clear which politician has the most chances to win the elections and with whom they will have to build relations by the end of 2024.

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Historical back

On the one hand, the debate provides an opportunity for the candidate to tell more about himself, his vision of the development of the United States, and speak out on topical political and socio-economic issues. On the other hand, the debate is an opportunity for the more skilled speaker to muddle his opponent. As the history of American debate shows, success is achieved by a candidate who knows how to approach the audience, not the answers to all questions.

The first-ever televised debate in September 1960 saw little-known Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy win the presidency over the seasoned Republican politician, Vice President Richard Nixon. Usually, presidential debates took place on the air, but then 88% of Americans already had televisions, and therefore the usual discussion was turned into a show. Nixon was more convincing to those Americans who listened to the radio debate, but those who watched TV were impressed by 43-year-old Kennedy, who looked confident and bursting with energy compared to 47-year-old Nixon, who was pale, thin, and felt not doing very well after a recent hospitalization. Kennedy won the election by a slight margin of 0.17% of the vote.

One of the most popular debates among the audience was the debate between President Jimmy Carter, who was aiming for a second term, and Republican candidate Ronald Reagan in October 1980. The verbal duel between the two politicians was watched by 80.6 million Americans. Reagan won the hearts of the audience with his directness and by catching Carter when he appealed with hackneyed slogans and arguments. The Republican often repeated the phrase "twenty-five again" and asked Carter the knockout question: "Are you in better shape than four years ago?", making it clear to the Americans that there is nothing new to offer a Democrat during his second term. Carter established himself as a weak president who loved to speculate about human rights but proved ineffective in containing the Soviet Union. Reagan won the election with 50.7% of the vote.

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America's favorites have not always won presidential elections. This is evidenced by the 2000 debate between Democratic Vice President Al Gore and Republican candidate George W. Bush. Former president and right-hand man of Bill Clinton, perhaps the most talented and popular Democratic president after Franklin Delano Roosevelt, still enjoys great prestige among Americans. Some of them to the question of who your president is. they even jokingly answer - Albert Gore. However, in the debate, Bush Jr. looked the winner, with the image of a "simple guy from Texas," whose arguments were simple and understandable for the average voter, while the intellectual Gore boredly listed facts. However, the 2000 US presidential election leaves a lot of questions, since the gap between the candidates was extremely small, and the voting results were challenged by the Democrats in court. It is believed that Gore won the vote in terms of votes, but the electoral commission tipped the scales in Bush's favor.

Domestic policy

During the debate, Trump and Biden will discuss pressing domestic political issues. A sticking point between Republicans and Democrats is finding a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, who recently died at the age of 87. Trump is pushing for the Republican-controlled Senate to immediately work out the possibility of appointing American conservative Brett Canavan. In this case, the majority of the judges in the highest court in the United States will be loyal to the Republican Party. Biden insists that this issue be considered after the presidential elections. In 2016, Obama came up with a similar initiative and proposed to appoint Merrick Garland to a similar post, but the Senate opposed.

The American society is worried about the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration failed to prevent the spread of the virus, and today the United States holds the record for the number of infected - over 7 million people (more than 206 thousand died). Trump's achievement is the allocation of unprecedented amounts of money to support enterprises during quarantine, gratuitous payments to the population, tax holidays for businesses, available loans, promoting an increase in the production of ventilators, and financing vaccine development activities. According to US Vice President Michael Pence, the drug will be ready by the end of the year.

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Trump's downside, on which Biden can recoup, is his unwillingness to cooperate with other states in the fight against coronavirus. The American president sent a withdrawal request to the World Health Organization (WHO) and froze the transfer of $ 400 million to its budget. Today, WHO is launching a COVAX fundraising program to fund the efforts of doctors and pharmacists around the world to find a vaccine. 64 countries are participating in the initiative. Biden intends to retain US membership in WHO and possibly join forces with China in the search for a vaccine, which is not yet involved in COVAX. According to unofficial information, Biden is going to use part of the military budget to fight the coronavirus.

The coronavirus pandemic coincided with a health crisis in the United States. Trump canceled the Affordable Medicine Act (Obamacare), which obliged all Americans to buy expensive insurance with a full list of medical services, canceled fines for those who are not insured but did not offer a worthy alternative. People with incurable chronic diseases have lost the opportunity to get expensive drugs at the expense of the insurer. Trump also proposed tightening the state funding procedure for the Medicaid medical program for low-income Americans, which the Supreme Court did not approve. During the campaign, Trump echoes the 2016 slogans of medical reform.

Biden is promoting the problem of racial discrimination and violence in cities, presents himself as a defender of the rights of African Americans. The candidate promises to tighten government oversight of police activities, prohibit the use of pinching the neck with a knee during the arrest, which is why African American George Floyd died in Minneapolis in late May. Floyd's death led to massive protests and riots in American cities, clashes with the police, casualties. The number of murders in several cities increased by 16%.

Biden promises to lift the immigration restrictions imposed by Trump, resume admitting refugees from Muslim countries, and end the practice of separating the families of illegal migrants crossing the US-Mexican border. However, Biden was not always such a liberal: in the 60s, he supported the preservation of racial segregation in schools, was opposed to the children of African Americans and whites studying in the same class. Accused by Democrats of racism and xenophobia, Trump may recall their favorite of this incident.

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Foreign policy

In the ensuing debate, Trump and Biden may touch upon foreign policy issues that are the subject of their differences. The incumbent president did not achieve significant success in this area, except for mediation in negotiations with Serbia and Kosovo, which agreed to resume trade and economic cooperation and open borders, Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, which established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. These diplomatic victories look small against the backdrop of major failures.

The US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and unsuccessful attempts to force China to stop stealing American technologies and conduct fair trade with the help of high tariffs remained fat stains on Trump's reputation. Negotiations with the DPRK over the renunciation of nuclear weapons, diplomatic efforts to reconcile Israel and Palestine, and the breakdown of peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban Islamist movement due to new military clashes turned out to be a failure.

Under Trump, there was a final split in relations with European partners due to the desire of the United States to oblige them to spend more on defense, the decision to reduce the American military presence in Germany, and withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate protection. The policy of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons has reached a dead end. In February 2021, the term of the agreement with the Russian Federation on the reduction of strategic offensive arms in 2010 expires, and new negotiations on this issue have not taken place. The United States and Russia withdrew from the treaty on the elimination of intermediate and shorter-range missiles. The United States has tilted towards isolationism.

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Biden proposes to return to the system of alliances with democracies that was tested back in the Cold War. In his opinion, it is necessary to strengthen the technological capabilities of NATO member states and intensify cooperation in the field of security under the auspices of the organization with the countries of Africa and Latin America and adhere to multilateral cooperation in international relations.

For the sake of improving relations with Europe, Biden proposes to immediately restore US participation in the Paris Agreement and to minimize carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by 2050. He wants to negotiate with Russia to extend the 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for five years. Biden plans to complete the withdrawal of the American military from Afghanistan and concentrate on conducting targeted anti-terrorist measures in the Middle East.

Biden plans to improve Obamaker so that Americans can choose their own insurance company and spend 8.5% of their income on insurance, and not 10%, as during the Obama presidency. He intends to prohibit the increase in prices for rare drugs, to abolish the advertising tax for foreign drug manufacturers in order to reduce the prices of their drugs on the American market. Although the American discontent will obviously spark Biden's plans to restore penalties for lack of insurance.

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Before the coronavirus pandemic, Trump boasted economic achievements. In the first three years of his presidency, 6.6 million new jobs were created, and annual GDP growth exceeded 2%. The United States has increased the production and export of oil and natural gas. Trump has implemented tax liberalization for businesses. However, from March to July, due to quarantines and the closure of many companies, US GDP fell by 32.9%, and 30.2 million Americans lost their jobs. Biden is trying to win the confidence of voters by promising to introduce a minimum wage of $ 15 per hour and create 10 million jobs (over the two terms of Obama's presidency, 18 million jobs were created).

The politician avoids the topic of a trade war, but proposes, together with partners, to exert collective pressure on China, which has moved dirty production to the countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative and violates human rights in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Hong Kong. Biden is against meetings with leader of the DPRK Kim Jong-un, advocates a substantive dialogue on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in partnership with South Korea, Japan, China, and may tighten sanctions against Pyongyang for unwillingness to abandon nuclear weapons. If elected, the politician is going to propose to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, but he is ready to toughen sanctions in case of refusal. Biden prioritizes diplomacy as a foreign policy tool but does not deny the possibility of using military force in extreme cases when there is a threat to US security.

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Biden's weak point, which Trump will put pressure on, is that the Democrat candidate contradicts himself on certain issues. He advocates strengthening relations with allies, but his plans may lead to a deterioration in relations with some of them. Biden intends to block the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia in response to the 2018 assassination of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the country's special services, in connection with large civilian casualties in Yemen due to a military operation against Iran-sponsored Houthis. He insists on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is of no interest to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hoped to annex 30% of the West Bank with Trump's approval.

The alliance system, of which Biden is a champion, is not so reliable and effective. When he worked in the team of ex-President Barack Obama, the NATO military operation in Libya and the overthrow of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi led to the strengthening of radical Islamists in the country and protracted civil war. The anti-terrorist coalition led by the United States failed to achieve the democratization of Syria and allowed the unilateral intervention of Russia and Iran in the armed conflict. During Biden’s term in power, Turkey distanced itself from the alliance with the United States, Israel, and NATO. Obama and Biden's policies turned out to be ineffective in preventing armed conflicts, as evidenced by the passive reaction to Russia's aggression in Ukraine in 2014.

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