When is the presidential debate today?

US presidential campaignTV duel was "bad entertainment"

The incumbent President Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden met for the first time in the US presidential election campaign: It was the first of a total of three TV duels. Heated arguments broke out five weeks before the election. Trump regularly interrupted his challenger and was called to order several times by moderator Wallace. Biden responded by saying Trump was a clown and should shut up.

Beyer: Trump more aggressive than Biden

Trump was much more aggressive and aggressive, said Peter Beyer (CDU), Federal Government Coordinator for Transatlantic Cooperation, on Deutschlandfunk. "With Biden I sometimes had the impression that he held back and found it difficult to deal with the constant interruptions and verbal attacks by Donald Trump," said Beyer.

There were many things that didn't surprise him, but it wasn't a debate, it was almost a duel. Beyer summarized the duel in conversation: "It was bad entertainment."

(picture alliance / Wolfram Steinberg)



The interview in full:

Dirk-Oliver Heckmann: Mr. Beyer, you also watched the TV debate for us at nighttime. In your opinion, who cut the better figure, Donald Trump or Joe Biden?

Peter Beyer: Of course, that always depends on the perspective of the beholder. My personal is, I was much more aggressive, aggressive, I almost said, of course, Donald Trump, the incumbent President. Joe Biden, at times I had the impression that he held back too much and found it difficult to deal with these constant interruptions, verbal attacks by Donald Trump. And the moderator had had a really difficult time with both fighters.

Heckmann: Was this aggressiveness still within the limits of what you know, or did it go beyond that from your point of view?

Beyer: All in all, I didn't find a lot of things surprising. But it wasn't actually this TV debate, it was actually more of a duel, where I almost said it was bad entertainment.

(AFP / POOL / RICK WILKING) The art of attack
Donald Trump and Joe Biden meet in the US election campaign for the first television duel. A look at history shows that the debates have often provided decisive moments. Sometimes only the little things mattered.

Heckmann: What surprised you

Beyer: I said yes, I was relatively little surprised, especially not at all in terms of content. Perhaps I was a bit surprised that, from my subjective perspective, there was someone who clearly dominated because he behaved so unpresidential and almost perhaps a little unworthy, as we already knew him: Donald Trump, the incumbent. I thought he was taking a step back, but from minute one, when the first US Supreme Court issue started, he hit it and adhered to his own rules, to which his campaign, to which he himself agreed , agreed, did not hold at all.

"Don't think that swap voters were approached"

Heckmann: Could that harm him with the voters, with the listeners and viewers?

Beyer: This is of course a very difficult question to answer. At the same time, while I was following the debate there last night, I had always discussed live with friends in California and Washington via WhatsApp. In some cases we had different assessments, including who performed better and who delivered better. I don't think it appealed to swap voters, either from Trump or from Joe Biden. At most, I think that you have addressed your own clientele. Perhaps this chaotic, mutually engaging, but also rather scared potential voters from even going to vote. I wouldn't want to rule that out either.

"Both must see to mobilize their own clientele"

Heckmann: And what consequences could that have?

Beyer: Well If I am right, that would of course mean lower voter turnout. We have to see, of course, that as we speak here, a good million voters have already cast their votes - keyword postal voting. That was also an issue. This is of course far too early to assess and speculation as to what effects this has. Both have to see that they are mobilizing their own clientele where they suspect their own voters. This is important. There are probably relatively few swap voters who actually want to change sides. There are many who are undecided. As I said: I hope that too many will not be put off by the spectacle that we had to see tonight.

"It's getting tighter in all of the swing states"

Heckmann: And it will be a close race, because the lead that Joe Biden has in the Swing States is close.

Beyer: Yes, it has partly disappeared when you look at the individual states. The Biden campaign recently discovered that, for example, Florida, a very important state because it sends a large number of voters to this Electoral College, but also Arizona, that the Hispanics and Latinos, the Cubans in exile, have simply been forgotten there . Bloomberg, the former potential candidate who applied on the side of the Democrats, is pumping a lot of millions in TV campaigns, in TV spots now, in support of Biden to fix it. Overall, in the decisive swing states, I would say Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, as I have already mentioned, it is actually becoming scarcer. All the surveys that we observe nationwide are not very meaningful anyway. What are important are these five or six battle ground states, where it is really contested. That is what matters. Of course it's a disadvantage, especially for Joe Biden here now, because he doesn't do campaign events, unlike Donald Trump, who does a little something there, still doing great hall-filling, arena-filling events to still mobilize people. That will now depend on the TV debates. We saw the first one today, there will be two more between these candidates, and then there is one more between the vice-presidential candidates.

Donald Trump's tax affair "could have an impact"

Heckmann: Mr. Beyer, a few days ago the New York Times published Donald Trump's tax file, which stated that Trump had paid next to no federal taxes, allegedly at least, and that he was not a billionaire but was in debt of millions of dollars. Trump speaks of fake news, also now in the TV debate again. Do you think that could have an impact on the election, or won't his supporters just say that if Trump doesn't pay taxes, does that speak for his sophistication?

Beyer: In fact, Donald Trump almost boasted in the debate earlier about the skill of him and his tax advisors. If you have these tax laws, then he would have been a good entrepreneur if he would make the most of all of it. In fact, he said that it was all fake news, that he had paid millions of taxes, and that it was all wrong. I tend to think that it will be more of a disadvantage for him. If you look who brought him to the White House in the 2016 presidential election, then he mobilized the people in the industrial belt, the simple white workers without a high level of education who admired him. If you now see that he may even have cheated the state on taxes, or has cheated there, then that could be negative. You may feel betrayed. I would say it can have an impact.

Supreme Court: Trump "wants to see his rearguard many years after his potential departure"

Heckmann: The very first topic of the TV debate was the replacement for the Supreme Court. Trump wants to enforce this before the elections and that would strengthen the majority in favor of the conservative judges. But don't we have to admit, Mr Beyer, that the Democrats would do exactly the same thing and have done it that way in the past?

Beyer: We saw, just before Obama left office, we had a similar situation. Of course, it always depends on which seat you are currently sitting in, are you incumbent or not. The discussion at the moment is that the Supreme Court may even be expanded to include 15 judges. That is a suggestion, at least on the Democratic side. Now we have to see how that shakes up there. I assume that after the nomination, after the suggestion by Donald Trump of the judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is classified as Conservative, as the process is now underway, hearings will take place. Of course, Donald Trump wants to occupy this as soon as possible. Should he leave office and Joe Biden then occupy the Oval Office, he simply wants him to see his rear guard there, many years after his potential departure from office, that he also see politics and life in the USA there can influence after leaving office. Now, of course, that is something that also plays a major role.

(South Bend Tribune / Robert Franklin) Donald Trump hopes the Supreme Court will secure his re-election
The Republicans' push for a quick replacement for the vacant Supreme Court judge's post could pose a threat to US democracy, commented Thilo Kößler in the Dlf. Donald Trump is speculating that the conservative majority in the highest court will help him to be re-elected.

If Biden wins the election, "everything doesn't get better all of a sudden"

Heckmann: Let's look at the transatlantic relationship. You are the coordinator of the federal government, Mr Beyer. Should Biden win the election, the problems between the US and Europe would not be resolved, would it? What are you expecting?

Beyer: As a matter of fact. For a long time I have been warning against wearing rose-tinted glasses and indulging in transatlantic nostalgia, saying that everything was better in the past and when Joe Biden comes, all the transatlantic issues that now pose challenges will not exist. In some places it may be so. That's what Joe Biden said before. For example the Paris climate protection agreement or the World Health Organization and a few other things, he would want to go back and put things right again - multilateralism. But if we look at his economic program, for example, what he said again in the debate, "buy american", or something like a wish for a transatlantic free trade area, which I think would be good because it would bring something to both sides, then he says Joe Biden quite clearly, first of all we have to take a look at whether there is a competitiveness of the USA, and until then we are not negotiating with any nation on earth about free trade agreements. These are topics like Nord Stream two, which is more in the US Congress, on the Hill, in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. We see a whole range of transatlantic issues, even more than I have just listed. It will stay. Everyone shouldn't have any illusions that everything will suddenly get better. But one thing will certainly get better: the mutual respect across the Atlantic, significantly better communication. I think that can be said for sure.

Heckmann: You think so. - We only have one minute left. What if Trump should win? Is there a colder ice age then?

Beyer: To put it euphemistically, I would say that the transatlantic relationship has undergone some changes that we must now face. This is our responsibility. Of course, I have a transatlantic beating heart and that's why that means for us here in Germany and I also say in Europe that we have to devote ourselves more to the transatlantic bridge pillars. I think it is increasingly our own responsibility to consolidate this transatlantic alliance of values ​​and interests, as difficult as it is now and as difficult as it would be under a Trump II.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.