'One big loser' of first presidential debate: analysis

By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) Who won the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden? The answer, of course, depends on who you ask. 

But Professor Peter Trumbore, Chair of Political Science at Oakland University, says it was neither.

"There were no winners last night, and there was one big loser — and that was the American people," Trumbore said, describing the debate as a "shambles" and a "disgrace for American democracy." 

"What we were subjected to last night was the furthest thing from a debate, and I think the responsibility for that really falls on the president. He, by one measure that I read this morning, interrupted either Joe Biden or the moderator Chris Wallace 128 times across that 90 minutes. And he made it impossible for there to be really any kind of coherent discussion about the very different places both of these candidates come from in terms of their policies and their visions for the future." 

Trumbore, speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950 Wednesday morning, said undecided voters may not have gotten the answers they were looking for.

"The pool of undecided voters is already really small," he said. "And I can't imagine that anybody that stuck through the 90-some minutes of that last night walked away feeling in any way different about either of the candidates. And this really works against the president, because at this point in the race he is coming from behind. He is the underdog." 

Trumbore said he thought Biden was at his best when he was able to turn away from Trump, looking directly into the camera and speaking to the American people, which he did more than once. 

While some people have been asking why they couldn't just shut off one candidate's mic while the other one was speaking, Trumbore said he does not believe the moderator was granted that power.

"I think the reality is that we are used to the idea that the candidates will more or less follow the rules that they agree to," Trumbore said. "And as Chris Wallace pointed out on multiple occasions, reminding the president that his own campaign agreed that each candidate would have two minutes to speak uninterrupted, and Trump simply couldn't, couldn't do it." 

Larry Holman of Warren, Michigan, said the debate went just about as he'd predicted it would. 

"I figured they were just gonna beat on each other the whole time; that's what I expected, you know?" Holman told WWJ's Mike Cambell. "Just beat up each other and not say what they were gonna do. That's what I expected." 

With two more debates still on the schedule, Trumbore said the candidates will need to switch up their strategy if they hope to accomplish anything constructive.

"I don't see any indication that President Trump will change his approach. And if that's the case, then unless the moderators have the power to silence a candidate while the other is speaking, it's just gonna be another clown show like what we saw last night." 

The next debate is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 15.