“What the H—- do we do now?” is what most of the Trump team — but maybe not President Trump — must be thinking after Tuesday’s debate. One comforting thought, perhaps, is that it could have been worse: Mr. Trump could have had a stroke or screamed obscenities or had a number one accident. Where was the 2016 magic — the magic of understanding how to win?
Oh, well: Onto the second debate? Maybe not. Now that Joe Biden has shown he can stand up without aid for 90 minutes, why should he tempt fate a second time? When Mr. Biden backs out of the rest of the debates, Mr. Trump will say Mr. Biden’s afraid. But after Mr. Biden’s performance on Tuesday, that will not be a convincing charge.
The best the Trump–Pence team can hope for is that Vice President Mike Pence, a seriously capable public speaker and debater, will do the job Mr. Trump didn’t do — and show him how to do it next time.
The first task for the Pence team is to understand what the goal of the debate is. Mr. Trump seemed to think — assuming he’d thought about it at all — that the goal was to showcase the amazing Trump machismo so effectively displayed at his rallies.
Wrong. People who like Trump rallies are already committed Trump voters. It’s the other folks, the undecideds, millions of them, who remain the target audience.
The second task for Mr. Pence is to highlight the weak points in Biden’s candidacy. He should harp on those issues regardless of the questions he is asked.
Mr. Biden is posing as a moderate. Mr. Pence should expose the hypocrisy. He should point out that Mr. Biden refused to say whether he would pack the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Biden refused to state a position on abolishing the filibuster in the Senate. Would Mr. Biden be party to ramming through Congress a bill granting the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico statehood? Those are key issues, because they go to the heart of whether we remain a two-party country or a one-party “dictatorship” of the left.
Mr. Pence should relentlessly point out Mr. Biden’s lack of support from the “law and order” community — police unions. The list of unions that have endorsed Mr. Trump is too long to mention. Mr. Pence could rattle off seven or eight of them. Not a single police union has endorsed Mr. Biden. Law and order is a big deal. Mr. Pence should bring it up again and again. And again.
And when he does he can segue into asking Sen. Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden’s running mate, why she has supported the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which has provided funds to bail rioters out of jail, as well as hardened criminals, including a man charged with second-degree murder after allegedly stabbing a friend to death, and a man facing charges of sexual assault and kidnapping. Ms. Harris apparently talked other members of Mr. Biden’s campaign into contributing, too. Repeat: Law and order is a big deal.
Mr. Biden may seem like a nice guy, but he’s a fraud; and Mr. Pence should provide details, especially regarding Mr. Biden’s fraudulent touting of his academic record which goes back decades.
Mr. Biden said he went to law school on a full academic scholarship. That was a lie. He said he graduated with three degrees. That was a lie.
Mr. Biden admitted plagiarizing when he was in law school, but claimed it was a mistake. Some “mistake”: He’d quoted five pages without proper citation. He was given an F.
That was a long time ago, of course, when Mr. Biden was … young? But then in 1988 he claimed to be in the top half of his class at law school. He actually ranked 76 out of 85.
And in 1988 after he’d been caught plagiarizing whole sections of other people’s speeches, Johnny Carson made fun of him, saying that when his plagiarism was revealed, he reassured his staff by telling them, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
Mr. Biden is basically a fraud: He’s been around for 47 years and has not a single accomplishment to his name. Why should anyone think he’d be an effective president — even assuming he can shake free from his left-wing, socialist Kamala Harris handlers?
Mr. Pence should ask Ms. Harris to name a single important thing Mr. Biden has done during his 47 years in Washington.
Maybe more debates won’t matter. After all, the country is not at war, the stock market is high, and the economy and job market were in terrific shape before the Chinese flu hit. Mr. Pence should hammer those points, too.
How can the incumbent lose? One way is by being opposed 24/7 by 99% of the media. So what should the Trump–Pence team do now? Focus on the undecideds and look presidential. Mr. Trump might dissent, saying that’s not how he won in 2016.
This isn’t 2016.
• Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. Email Daniel Oliver at Daniel.Oliver@TheCandidAmerican.com.