Elections 2020

Interest Is High for First Presidential Debate Between Trump and Biden

NBC 5 checked in with Brian Lain, the Director of Debate at the University of North Texas, for insight into what can be expected

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The world is preparing to watch the first presidential debate of the 2020 general election.

NBC 5 checked in with Brian Lain, the Director of Debate at the University of North Texas, for insight into what can be expected.

“I’m expecting that it will be unlike any other past presidential debates,” Lain said. “Obviously, we are dealing with it in a pandemic and the Commission of Presidential Debates has already said it is going to look very different. It won’t be over-produced. We won’t have the candidates shaking hands as we typically see in the debates.”

There will be fewer than 100 people in the audience with the moderator keeping his role to a minimum, Lain added.

“We’re going to see a sort of old fashioned, rapid-fire set of questions and candidates responding and getting back and forth,” Lain said. “Candidates only have two minutes to be able to state their answers to the questions so they are going to be on their toes. They are going to have to make use of their times as efficiently as they can.”

Which candidate most benefits from this format?

“Absolutely President Trump benefits from this format. The president is a fantastic debater. He has a lot of experience in debates,” Lain said. “He’s very good at maximizing his time with a lot of short quips to get in his points as quickly as possible.”

“From Vice President Biden’s point of view – he’s got to make up a lot of territory. He’s ahead in the polls, so if he said nothing and didn’t even show up at the debates, he would be the beneficiary,” Lain said. “He’s got to defend himself there, so expect the President to go on attack and expect the Vice President to try to defend himself as much as possible which is typically the reversal of the roles.”

Lain said the tone and style of the candidates will be very important.

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