By Phil Elwood, Managing Director, SEC Newgate, Washington DC
This weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump foreshadowed the kind of incendiary, low-brow rhetoric that will surely be on display this evening during the first of three presidential debates with former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump tweeted a challenge to the Democratic nominee suggesting they take drug tests and alluding to the possibility that his opponent might be using performance-enhancing drugs. This is very likely the first “drug test challenge” in presidential debate history.
Also, just ahead of tonight’s debate, the world finally got a glimpse of Trump’s finances. The New York Times obtained a copy of Trump’s long sought after tax returns and concluded that he paid little to nothing in taxes over two decades and showed “chronic losses” among his businesses.
The topics for the debate were been selected by the moderator, Chris Wallace from Fox, and announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates a week ago, with changes allowed for breaking news as warranted. The topics include:
- Trump and Biden Records
- The Supreme Court
- The Economy
- Race and Violence in our Cities
- The Integrity of the Election
That the final topic is necessary is particularly notable. Trump has spent months questioning the viability of mail-in voting amid the pandemic, despite himself voting by mail. And, over the last week, he has repeatedly been asked if he would support a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election on November 3. He refused to answer the question on multiple occasions. This is the bedrock of American democracy – that a peaceful transfer of power will happen in 2021, as it has after each election since 1792.
Following the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump and Republicans in the U.S. Senate are prepared to move quickly to seat a replacement, nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who would swing the highest court in the U.S. to the right. This comes after Republicans in the Senate refused to seat then-President Obama’s nominee for the high court in 2016, arguing that it was inappropriate to do so in an election year. Biden will make the case tonight that Republicans should follow their own precedent and the winner of the election should nominate the next justice.
Thirty-five more days to go.