Trump, Biden to face off in final debate of the election season

Posted at 4:57 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 20:14:15-04

The final presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday evening. Both President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will meet in-person in Nashville, Tennessee. 23ABC's Bayan Wang spoke to a local political contributor about what viewers can expect.

The second presidential debate was canceled, when President Trump would not agree to a virtual system. So with less than two weeks until Election Day, this will be their last showdown on the biggest stage to make their case to undecided voters.

Six topics will be discussed: COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership. Biden will be heading into the debate leading the polls.

This time around, 23ABC political contributor Allen Bolar anticipates a much more subdued debate compared to the first one.

"[Biden's] ahead in the polls. Poll averages have him up something like 10 maybe even 11 points. So he's really looking not to make waves. At this point, he's just trying to run out the clock," explained Bolar.

Bolar said the goal for Trump is to narrow that gap by winning over a large portion of undecided voters during the debate. Part of that strategy: fewer interruptions.

"I think the president's advisors are telling him that he needs to not to interrupt as much and he needs to kind of let Joe Biden speak and I think their hope is... that letting him speak uninterrupted will actually make the president look better and make the vice-president look worse."

Some of the possible interruptions will be out of the candidates' hands as the commission on presidential debates announced the candidates' microphones will be muted during portions of the debate. When Trump got wind of the news he didn't take it kindly, calling it unfair. But Bolar said this may be a blessing in disguise for the Trump campaign.

"I think there are people who think it would favor Joe Biden. I think it's going to favor Trump because I think that the thing that hurt Trump in the first debate was his interrupting. I think that the reason people are saying that Biden did so well, isn't necessarily because Biden did so well. It's because Trump did so poorly."

Thursday's debate stage will offer Trump an opportunity to redeem any mishaps from the first debate. Bolar said Trump must underscore his strong suits with the American people, the economy being one of them. Biden is likely to highlight one of the common themes in his campaign -- pointing the finger at the current administrations handling of the coronavirus.

While the debate is expected to be less intense than the first Bolar said he wouldn't be surprised if Trump tries to pressure Biden to answer whether he would pack the Supreme Court with additional justices should Amy Coney Barret be confirmed as a justice to the court.

"I would expect Trump to press him on that, to make it uncomfortable for him to say this guy is not wanting to play it straight with the American people. I would expect Biden to needle Trump and to try and make the argument that Trump has failed in his duty to oversee the American government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic."