The topics for the first presidential debate between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden were posted Tuesday. They were selected by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who will moderate the debate next week.
The Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit and nonpartisan group that sponsors presidential debates, posted the selected topics to be discussed at the debate, which will be held Tuesday, Sept. 29, at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. They are as follows:
- The Trump and Biden Records
- The Supreme Court
- The Economy
- Race and Violence in our Cities
- The Integrity of the Election
The debate will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET and continue for 90 minutes without commercial breaks.
The selected topics reflect recent polling on what Americans view as the the top issues facing the country. A Gallup poll conducted in July found 30% of Americans consider COVID-19 to be the most important problem in the country. The next-most important issue was the government/poor leadership, according to 23% of those polled, and 16% said race relations were most important.
Both Trump and Biden face pressure to perform well. Early and absentee voting in many states begins well before Nov. 3, making the first debate one of the last opportunities the candidates will have to make the argument for their candidacies on prime-time TV before some voters make up their minds.
Ahead of next Tuesday night’s showdown, the Trump campaign is building up expectations for Biden’s performance. In an interview on Fox News Monday, President Trump predicted Biden is “going to do great” before attacking the Democratic nominee’s record. “I’ve done more in 47 months than he’s done in 47 years, and that’s absolutely true,” Trump said.
“I think he’s a professional,” Trump said of Biden. “I don’t know if he’s all there, but I think he’s a professional.”
The Biden debate team is preparing Biden to aggressively fact-check Trump’s record on the debate stage.
“He’s going to lie and lie some more and spin everything and blame it on Biden and Obama,” a Biden aide reportedly told the Hill. “The VP needs to go on offense and immediately say, ‘This is on you. The state of the economy, high unemployment, kids out of school, a pandemic that has gone unchecked. All of it is on you.”
“The only way he ‘wins’ is if he stays on offense,” another Biden ally reportedly said. “The second it goes the other way, things could go sideways.”