US President Donald Trump on Thursday night turned in a more composed and disciplined debate performance, offering a marked contrast to the chaos and fury that defined his first battle with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Even as the president earned credit for engaging in a more civil exchange of views — and maybe even brought a few doubters back into his camp — there was little reason to think he had scored the kind of dramatic victory he badly needed to turn around a race polls show he is losing.
Trump’s supporters had spent more than a week teeing up an attack on the foreign business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter, but standing next to Biden during the final presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump failed to make it stick.
Biden managed to flip it back on Trump, pointing out news reports showing it was the president’s company that had a bank account in China, not him.
Biden’s best moments occurred when he resisted taking the bait as Trump accused him of being corrupt, leading Biden to call out Trump for failing to release a single tax return.
“What are you hiding?” Biden said.
The former vice president was less sure-footed elsewhere in the debate. When under pressure from Trump, he appeared to endorse the eventual elimination of the oil industry.
Trump immediately seized on Biden’s remark for voters in all-important Pennsylvania, where Biden’s position on reducing fracking wins him few friends in a state where fracking employs thousands of people.
After the first debate devolved into a mess of cross-talk and bitterness, this session was notable for its substance, as voters could watch the two men lay out their closing arguments on almost every topic — COVID-19, immigration, race relations — and see the clear choice they face less than two weeks before election day.
Trump scored when he resurrected the parts of his persona that won him fans in 2016, contrasting his outsider’s stance to Biden’s 47 years in public life.
On COVID-19, Trump accused Biden of supporting further economic shutdowns that have crushed the US economy.
Even as the president’s allies crowed that the president’s tone could bring reluctant voters back home — or erase the memory of a first debate where even his debate coach said he was “too hot” — indications were that he had done little to change the underlying dynamics.
A CNN instant poll of the debate showed that 53 percent of respondents thought Biden had prevailed, versus just 39 percent for Trump — a result roughly mirroring the president’s deficit in the polls.
Trump’s steadier approach occasionally faltered, such as when he attacked the IQ level of immigrants seeking asylum and offered a scattered defense of his foreign financial entanglements and tax payments.
Democrats also seized on Trump at one point seemingly belittling family dinner-table conversations during times of economic strife, after Biden looked into the camera and made a direct appeal to those voters.
Biden is leading Trump by 7.9 percent nationally in the RealClearPolitics polling average
SUPPORT: Reporters Without Borders said that it stands behind the legitimacy of the commission’s probe and that press freedom does not mean the absence of oversight National Communications Commission (NCC) commissioners yesterday reached a unanimous decision to reject CTi News’ (中天新聞台) license renewal application on the grounds that the channel’s frequent contraventions of media regulations showed that it has a malfunctioning internal control mechanism that cannot be rectified. This was the first time since it was established in 2006 that the commission denied a license renewal to a news channel. NCC Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) announced the landmark decision at the commission’s weekly media briefing. The commission denied the renewal request because the news channel was fined a total of NT$11.53 million (US$400,932) for 25 breaches of media regulations
SURPRISE GUEST: Media reports identified the visitor as Admiral Michael Studeman, director of the J2, which oversees intelligence at the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command A two-star US Navy admiral overseeing US military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region has made an unannounced visit to Taiwan, two sources told Reuters on Sunday. The sources, who include a Taiwanese official familiar with the situation, said the official was Rear Admiral Michael Studeman. They were speaking on condition of anonymity. After initially saying on Sunday night that it had no comment about the report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the visit of an “unidentified US official,” but declined to give more details because the trip “has not been made public.” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday
AUTUMN STRUGGLE: The KMT and TPP set up stages on the rally’s sidelines, while Want Want boss Tsai Eng-meng said the DPP was curtailing freedom of speech Tens of thousands of people in Taipei yesterday took part in the “Autumn Struggle” (秋鬥) — an annual protest march by labor groups — but with this year’s focus on rejecting the government’s plan to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine residue. “Against poisonous pork, against double standards, against a party-state,” the protesters, mostly wearing black, chanted in front of the rally’s main stage on Ketagalan Boulevard at about noon, before a parade set off at 2pm. Autumn Struggle spokesperson Lee Chien-cheng (李建誠) said this year’s march was divided into three teams, with the first team urging food safety and labor
An investigation has found no mechanical problems underlying the Tuesday disappearance of an F-16 jet and its pilot, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday, adding that it does not rule out an accident due to “spatial disorientation.” An air force F-16 jet on Tuesday evening disappeared from radar screens, just two minutes after it took off from Hualien Air Base, while the 44-year-old pilot, Colonel Chiang Cheng-chih (蔣正志), has yet to be found. Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) yesterday morning headed to Hualien for updates on the search and rescue, while giving a pep talk to Chiang’s unit,