GOP strategist: Biden failed at the debate, but America lost | Opinion

The expectations for Joe Biden at the debate were low. He had one job: show the country that at 81 years old he can still do the job of president. Biden failed to meet this test.

Without question, the debate was a total disaster for Biden. He looked old. His answers trailed off. He stopped mid-sentence and often was hard to understand.

Matt Wylie
Matt Wylie

The debate was supposed to be a unique opportunity for Americans to see the back and forth between former President Donald Trump and Biden on the same stage. It’s part of the job interview process and their answers and interactions tell us about their ability to do the job. Each candidate is expected to fact-check each other and hold the other accountable. That’s why we have debates.

Biden was not up to the task. He fumbled questions on abortion and climate change — two issues Democrats are counting on to take back the House and expand their majority in the Senate. Even his attacks on Trump seemed to lack the usual Biden wit and charm.

Biden would have been better off refusing to debate. What makes this even worse is that the debate was called for by Biden’s team. It was political malpractice to put Biden on that stage and those advisors should never work in politics again.

For Trump, the decision to agree to a CNN-hosted debate with conditions, paid off. The muted mics made Trump look composed and reasoned, and the split screen was a terrible visual for Biden. Usually, no one really wins a debate. This time, Trump was the clear winner.

Time will tell if it changes the dynamic of the election. Electorally, Trump did little to persuade swing voters. It took less than 10 minutes before Trump deviated into the weaponization of the Department of Justice and the migrant crisis — issues that matter to his base.

Trump needed to convince voters that Biden needed to be fired. Biden did that on his own. Trump’s mistake was that when Biden was blowing it, Trump never pivoted to his own vision — something that could have been the final nail in Biden’s political coffin.

Trump also failed to persuade suburban women to vote for him. His best hope is that Biden’s performance was so alarming that women in swing states, who have rejected Trump since 2018, will look past the Access Hollywood tape, Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, E. Jean Carroll and vote for him anyway.

The truth is that America lost.

The debate was our chance to hear two presidents challenge each other’s record and outline their vision for the next four years. Instead, the debate devolved into golf handicaps, passing cognitive tests and a sad, childish back and forth on “no, you were the worst president in American history.”

Democrats have a decision to make.

From Biden’s opening sentence, panic alarms started going off with Democratic leaders across the country. Biden’s performance left Americans wondering if he can perform his duties as president — sparking conversations about invoking the 25th Amendment.

Many Democrats say Trump is an existential threat to democracy. If that is what they truly believe, then Democrats have no choice but to convince Biden to step aside or find a way to replace him. If they don’t make the change, Trump’s path to victory just got easier.

Matt Wylie is a S.C. based Republican political strategist and analyst with over 25 years of experience working on federal, state and local campaigns.