If you believe ideas matter, President Donald Trump clearly won the debate on Tuesday night. The president defended his record and, for the most part, made strong arguments for his ideas.
Having said that, it is hard to tell if the performance changed any minds during the debate. Data shows that undecided voters were turned off by both candidates. Frank Luntz described their mood about the debate, saying “my undecideds looked at that and said, how do you expect me to make up my mind if you behave like this?” They were more concerned about the style than the substance of the debate.
Strategically, Mr. Trump was right to occasionally interrupt former Vice President Joe Biden when he was saying things that were incorrect. The president clearly dominated the stage. Ironically, it reminded me of the 2010 vice presidential debate where then-Vice President Biden consistently spoke over then-Congressman Paul Ryan.
For those who truly listened to what was stated during the debate, Mr. Trump had the upper hand. Overwhelmingly, the facts are on his side.
Mr. Trump noted that the American economy was doing exceptionally well before the global pandemic. Unemployment was at a 50 year low, and the unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, people with disabilities, and veterans were all the lowest ever recorded. America experienced a booming economy — the greatest in the history of the world — on Mr. Trump’s watch. A stark contrast to the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression we slogged through under President Obama and Joe Biden.
One of the key moments of the debate came when Mr. Biden again said that he would get rid of the Trump tax cuts. That means the majority of hard-working taxpayers would see a tax increase under his plan. In total, Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion tax increase is far more than Hillary Clinton’s plans were four years ago.
In addition, Mr. Biden said that he would shut down the entire American economy again next year if that is what his advisers tell him to do. That would destroy small businesses and lead to massive job losses.
When Mr. Biden tried to blame the president for coronavirus, Mr. Trump correctly fought back with the argument that Mr. Biden had attacked the travel restrictions imposed on people coming from China and other foreign locations. The president suggested that his actions saved lives and that the death toll would be far greater if Mr. Biden were in charge, an argument supported by the facts Mr. Biden’s own former chief of staff stated about H1N1 that “we did every possible thing wrong. Sixty million Americans got H1N1 in that period of time, and it is just purely a fortuity that this isn’t one of the greatest mass-casualty events in American history.”
Many expected a discussion about “climate change” to favor Mr. Biden, but Mr. Trump turned the tables and talked about how he wants clean air and clean water but not at the expense of jobs or economic growth. He backed Mr. Biden into defending the so-called Green New Deal until the former vice president woke up and realized he was not for it. The plan would devastate the economies of states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania that are heavily dependent on manufacturing and agriculture.
Mr. Biden’s own website notes his support for the framework of the plan. The president talked about the need for law and order in our country and challenged Mr. Biden to name one law enforcement group that has endorsed him. Mr. Biden failed to answer the question. That’s because of the summer of silence from him and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, who continues to support organizations that are calling to defund the police. Mr. Trump noted that the violence has been brewing in Democrat-led cities.
In particular, Mr. Biden was silent about the violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, until it erupted over three nights during which businesses burned to the ground and two people were tragically killed on the streets. Only then (and presumably after focus groups and polls showed that he was in trouble) did Mr. Biden finally speak out against the violence. Meanwhile, his running mate actually helped raise money to bail out people who were jailed during the riots in Minneapolis. So much for law and order.
Mr. Biden gave one of his weakest responses when asked if he would support packing the Supreme Court and ending the Senate filibuster. For years, Mr. Biden has opposed both ideas. Now that he needs the support of radicals in his own party, he is suddenly silent about the plans — signaling he’d be open to them if Democrats take control of both chambers and the White House. Yet another Biden flip-flop.
The president summed things up when he declared that he had done more in 47 months than Mr. Biden had done in the past 47 years since he first took office in Washington. One more reason to drain the swamp during the next four years.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him @ScottWalker.