Trump’s clear-cut debate victory over Biden raises awkward question about 2024 campaign

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Trump’s clear-cut debate victory over Biden raises awkward question about 2024 campaign

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Former President Donald Trump’s decisive victory over President Biden in the campaign’s first presidential debate opens up a key question about the 2024 campaign.

The big question in the aftermath of the showdown is whether Biden will be the Democratic presidential nominee in November. I say that because the only issue that matters coming out of the debate now is the uncertainty of Biden’s presentation, his raspy voice and his numerous gaffes. The answer will depend on whether polls now move dramatically in Trump’s direction following the debate. 

The only thing Biden really has going for him is that voter attitudes are so locked in that it is unlikely that the movement towards Trump will be as pronounced as the disparity between the candidates’ performance on Thursday night. But that being said, I fully anticipate that a national race that is currently a statistical tie will move in Trump’s direction – by at least a few points. In the swing states, which have been more pro-Trump than the national electorate, there is every reason to believe that the former president will consolidate the lead he has in at least five or six states.

BIDEN RIPPED FOR ‘OLD’ APPEARANCE, ‘WEAK’ VOICE DURING FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: ‘DEEPLY ALARMING’

During the debate, I received numerous spontaneous texts from grassroots Democrats asking when Biden will be replaced, whether Biden is the one who belongs in a cemetery and whether Biden was really as incoherent at times as I and apparently many others found him to be.

To be fair, it does not appear to me that Trump changed many minds on Thursday night. He ducked a number of questions, including ones about how he would end the war in Ukraine, how he would solve the opioid crisis and how he would bring the country together given the polarization we see each and every day. But there is no doubt in anyone’s mind, even the most zealous Biden supporters, that Trump, the vast majority of the time, appeared coherent, cogent and correct. 

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And let me be clear, I found Biden’s answers on issues like abortion, NATO and indeed on a number of aspects of our foreign policy to be strong and compelling on the substance. But that was all overshadowed by his inability to speak clearly, as well as his hesitancy answering questions, his uncertainty in choice of words and phrases and a closing statement that in no way gave anyone, least of all me, confidence about his fitness for office. 

I certainly believe that Trump did not address the questions about his legal challenges as fully as he might, although his answer about Hunter Biden went a long way toward neutralizing the issue.

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Still, the dominant takeaway, for me, after the 90-minute faceoff, and indeed, what will be aired now — from the highest levels of the party to the grassroots — is whether the Democratic Party can survive a Joe Biden reelection campaign. And, the corollary is this: Should the party elders, led by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, begin the same conversation Republican Party elders initiated with Richard Nixon in the summer of 1974? The Republican elders told Nixon that year that his base of support in the party was gone and that he had to resign. The question now is whether Democratic leaders can and will do the same thing with President Biden.

I think this is the key question, and I say this as a Democrat who wants to vote Democratic in November, if at all possible. But I think it will be very difficult for many Democrats to vote for the Joe Biden we saw on Thursday night. 

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