PRESIDENT Donald Trump is running out of arguments – and gettable voters – as he faces Democratic foe Joe Biden in Nashville Thursday night at the second and final presidential debate before the Nov. 3 election.
Trump, low on campaign cash and trailing steadily in national and battleground state polls, has thrown out an array of arguments against Biden with increasing frustration, with none appearing to weaken the former vice president’s standing.
Trump promoted a “massive” scandal that Biden was involved in illegal “unmasking” of intelligence sources; an investigation by Trump’s own attorney general ended with no charges or public findings.
The president has repeatedly accused Biden of being a player in a purported scandal involving Biden’s son Hunter’s role on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm. Despite inquiries by the GOP-led Senate and others, no criminal wrongdoing has been unearthed, and Trump’s comments at the first debate about Hunter Biden’s past drug use fell flat with what polling showed was an unsympathetic audience.
The president’s attacks on Biden’s energy and mental acumen have also not done damage. For all of Trump’s “Sleepy Joe” references and taunts about running a campaign from his Wilmington, Delaware basement, it is Biden whose campaign strategy has kept him ahead in the polls (and COVID-19 free). A USC poll taken after the first debate found that public perception of Trump’s physical and mental fitness for office weakened, while Biden’s strengthened.
“This is what happens in the death spiral of a losing campaign. And I’ve been on both sides of losing campaigns,” says Matt Bennett, executive vice president of the centrist Democratic group Third Way.
“It doesn’t feel good” to be behind with so little time left, Bennett adds. “Everything you try fails. He is obviously a particularly undisciplined campaigner, but everyone who enters the death spiral starts to panic and try new things, and it never works.”
Trump’s efforts to cast Biden as a “socialist” or to divide the Democratic Party by casting him as not liberal enough have also not succeeded: polling shows that while Trump’s base may be more devoted to their candidate personally, Biden voters are just as passionate about ousting Trump…Read more>>