Let the Games Begin: Biden-Trump Debates Offer Opportunities for Breakthrough Moments That Were Reagan’s Specialty

Biden will have to defend his record — on inflation, shrinking wages, the open-border catastrophe — live, without a teleprompter.

AP/Ron Edmonds
President Reagan, left, and Walter Mondale, at a presidential debate, October 21, 1984. AP/Ron Edmonds

Presidential debates are so much fun. There’s always something noteworthy. Or cringeworthy.

I always thought the Ronald Reagan debates were super cool. In the first one against Jimmy Carter, the Gipper asked: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

That was it. Game, set, match. Reagan won 44 states.

His 1984 debates with Walter Mondale were trickier.

In the first one, Reagan got a bit tied up trying to show folks he knew policy numbers and other details. But he was really a big picture man. Certainly, the greatest conservative big picture man in the 20th century — or all time, for that matter.

The liberal beltway media started running stories that Reagan was too old at age 73.

In the second debate, though, Reagan carried the day with a fabulous quip when he said: “I will not make my opponent’s age or inexperience an issue.” 

The crowd roared in approval. Mondale went kind of hangdog, as he realized how badly Reagan outfoxed him. Reagan took the election, winning 49 states.

Of course, the economy after the Carter inflationary recession was booming with over 10 percent growth after the Reagan tax cuts.

I don’t remember as much about all the other debates.

I think I recall that George H. W. Bush looked at his watch during his Bill Clinton debate. Whether that caused his loss — who knows? Of course, he shouldn’t have raised taxes in the first place. That was the killer.

I always thought that George W. Bush did a very nice job with Al Gore, because Gore was such a know-it-all that people just got sick of him before the debate was even halfway over.

Anyway, Mr. Bush was always an underrated intellect, and he took out windbag John Kerry in 2004.

I can’t remember much about John McCain vs. Barack Obama.

To this day, though, I still believe Sarah Palin beat Joe Biden in their vice presidential debate. I was covering that one for another network and I think she surprised everybody, but McCain never really had a chance as the whole financial world was melting down.

Donald Trump surprised all the critics in 2016, beating Hillary Clinton with his strong grasp of economic growth and America First policies.

And, I also remember the last debate just a couple of weeks before the election, when Mr. Trump blasted Mrs. Clinton for favoring late-term abortion.

She had no answer in defense of her cruel and inhumane position. I believe that was a huge factor in Mr. Trump’s victory.

So, now, Messrs. Trump and Biden are going to go at it again.

Mr. Biden released a video today trying to sound like a tough guy, with five edit cuts in 13 seconds.

He wants to debate Mr. Trump twice — but not the usual three times, and he won’t do it in front of an audience. He’s afraid of any crosstalk.

He’s kicking poor Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. out. 

And he just wants the liberal networks — CNN, ABC, CBS, and Telemundo — to host. No Fox. That’s unfortunate.

Doesn’t sound very tough to me.

Mr. Trump knows all about the liberal networks’ biases, but he’s saying “yes” anyway. Good for him.

And the June 27 debate will come before the mail-in voting starts, which I think is going to help Trump. So, Joe, you can put up as many guardrails as you want.

You’re going to have to do this one live, without a teleprompter. And you’re going to have to defend your record — on high inflation, shrinking blue-collar wages, an open-border catastrophe, and America’s weakness around the world.

We’ll see how you do. Let the games begin.

From Mr. Kudlow’s broadcast on Fox Business Network.


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