In one of the most pivotal elections in the history of the United States, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden finally went head to head on Sept. 29 in the first of three debates. The debate itself turned out to be perhaps the worst debate in presidential history when what was supposed to be a civil discussion quickly unraveled into chaos. 

Both candidates had their own agenda for the night. Biden was interested in debating policy and U.S. trends over the last four years; his strategy for winning this election is seemingly to prove he is the more competent (and compassionate) candidate. Trump, on the other hand, lied his way through the debate and attacked Biden’s character, rather than discussing the pressing issues facing the U.S. at this time. Trump’s approach has drawn widespread criticism, but did this strategy just manage to win him the debate?

Trump spent the initial part of the debate constantly interrupting Biden, usurping Biden’s allotted time to speak. This posture quickly set the tone for the first half of the debate. The coolheaded Biden quickly lost his composure and both candidates soon started using the debate time to simply yell and interrupt one another, losing any sense of professionalism. Within the first 15 minutes alone, Trump called Biden “stupid,” Biden called Trump “a clown,” and the rest of the debate followed a similar path. However, if this was intended by Trump, this might have been a smart plan all along.

Since Trump spoke over Biden for a good chunk of the first half of the debate, Biden struggled to find a voice amidst the constant interrupting. He wasted a lot of his time trying to be professional and allowed Trump to interrupt him. While this did make Biden appear as the more presidential candidate, Biden struggled to discuss many of his ideas during the debate.

When Biden finally did lose his cool and started speaking over Trump, Trump simply changed his tactic and started attacking him. All of a sudden now, Biden was wasting time defending his character and family rather than discussing his policies and plans as president. 

Along with this comes Trump’s pathological lying. With Biden too busy defending himself and not attacking Trump, Trump used his time to lie about what he has accomplished as president. While much of what he claimed has now been proven to be factually inaccurate, in the heat of the moment, when neither moderator Chris Wallace nor Biden could necessarily invalidate all his claims, his overall confidence and aggression was far more apparent than Biden’s success in the debate. 

Frankly, it seemed as if Trump had a clear plan. He was primarily interested in wasting time, forcing the debate to become a debate purely about attacking Biden. Perhaps he was planning for a 2016 repeat? After her emails were leaked, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost support from undecided voters and swing states which cost her the presidential election. Maybe Trump thought that, by exposing Biden’s dark side, he might be able to repeat the events of the 2016 election.

Either way, Trump’s unorthodox plan seemingly allowed him to control the debate. Biden never seemed to be the one in control, and he was often following Trump’s agenda. While many people think that Biden was the better and more composed candidate, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Trump dictated the course of the debate. But did this really win him the debate?

Honestly, no. All of this effort might have been a silly strategy, though. Post-debate, people are now looking back and positively appraising Biden’s performance while criticizing Trump further for his inappropriate behavior, especially his unjustified and extreme attack on Biden’s son, Hunter.

They are viewing Trump as an aggressive and uncompassionate tyrant rather than a strong-willed president. Swing voters have lost trust in the president who displayed to the world that he can’t be honest. They have lost faith that he can be empathetic and caring toward his fellow Americans, even if their political views aren’t in alignment. People continue to invalidate his claims and denounce Trump’s inhumane comments about the Biden family and question whether Trump can truly be America’s president. Honestly, the president’s performance did more harm than good to his campaign.

With Trump currently hospitalized, it is uncertain if the second and third presidential debates, slated for Oct. 15 and 22, will continue as scheduled. All that is certain, though, is that Trump has left his mark on voters. For some, it is a mark of dominance and strength, but as criticism continues to swirl after the debates, more and more people are viewing his overall performance as something that might have just cost him his presidency. 

Photo: Promo image of the first Presidential Debate between President Trump and Vice President Biden, on @foxnews on Instagram

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