Presidential candidates debate Tuesday, Sept. 29

The debate between presidential candidates starting at 7 pm tonight will be moderated by Chris Wallace of FOX News.  He’s chosen six topics–the Trump and Biden records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election.  

These are issues crafted by President Trump’s campaign.  

“Race and violence in our cities.” Between 15 and 26 million people have taken part in Black Lives Matter protests since the videotaped murder of Geoge Floyd. Although 1400 people have been arrested–less than 0.009% of participants–most have been charged with vandalism, not violence. Trump, however, wants voters to believe only he can protect them from raging urban masses.  

“Integrity of the election.” Only now that Trump claims wide-spread voter fraud is a primary danger to his re-election has this topic become important enough for a Presidential debate. Republican voter-suppression–hours-long lines, deleted registrations, and inaccessible polling places–never made the big leagues.

Fitness. Although not on the agenda, fitness may be the big issue. Trump has repeatedly attacked Biden as physically and mentally unfit to be president. 

But Trump’s health is also in question. Many have speculated that mini-strokes were responsible for his unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last November.   

My feeling is that if either candidate has energy enough to demonstrate 90 minutes of mental acuity before a national audience tonight, they’re doing better than most of us could at 50. 

What issues would be featured in a Biden-friendly debate?

Healthcare. Biden feels strongly that the U.S. needs the Affordable Care Act and would like to add a public option to the assortment of available insurance plans. In a retake from 2016, President Trump claims he has a new and better plan that’s top secret until after he’s elected. The Supreme Court won’t be hearing the latest Republican attempt to abolish the Affordable Care Act until a week after the election. Voters won’t learn if millions of Americans lose their healthcare until after all the ballots are cast.   

Workers’ rights and wages. Biden came from a family of workers and understands why they need representation on grievances, including those for the physical dangers they face, rather than the dictates of a company-hired arbitrator. He’s also aware that no one can live on the current minimum wage. President Trump seldom mentions labor except to say he’s added jobs and will do away with the payroll taxes funding Social Security and Medicare. 

The environment and climate change. Long an environmentalist, Biden ranks climate change as one of the major crises facing our country.  His proposals include ending government subsidies to fossil fuel industries, restoring methane regulations, and mandating fuel efficiency.  President Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t believe in climate change and blames poor management for year-after-year increases in wildfire casualties. 

International relations. Biden sees a connection between maintaining good relations and growing international trade. He also believes we need world-wide cooperation to curb climate change. President Trump is strong on “putting America first,” which has somehow translated into alienating our allies and doing favors for Saudi Arabia and Russia.     

These topics may receive more attention in the two following debates. The exchange on Thursday, Oct. 15, will be town-hall style where Florida citizens pose questions and candidates give two-minute replies.  The final debate the following Thursday will have six topics chosen by moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News.

Please join in watching these debates. They are our best chances to view the candidates without the filter of commentators. If you’re busy tonight, check for tapes later.

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