Looking to turn around a trailing campaign, US President Donald Trump dug deep, chilled out and threw a bunch of garbage at the wall, hoping at least some of it would stick.
Trump opened Thursday night’s debate by falsely claiming a vaccine for COVID-19 was imminent, followed up by continuing to lie about his refusal to release his tax returns, then raised a series of nonsensical allegations about Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son, and ended with a pack of mistruths about both his and Biden’s policy accomplishments and proposals.
Trump mostly abandoned the constant interruptions and abrasive style he deployed in the first debate, but continued with the falsehoods and exaggerations. His performance is likely to reassure some Republican political strategists who are fretting about a potential Democratic landslide.
Still, the incumbent badly needed a dramatic moment to have any hope of improving his flailing chances ahead of Nov. 3. Roughly 50 million Americans have already cast their ballots, and Biden has led for months in nearly every available public poll both nationally and in the critical swing states that will decide the electoral college.
He didn’t get it.
The debate’s defining moment came during an exchange over Trump’s allegations of corruption surrounding Biden’s son, Hunter. Biden, after pointing to Trump’s own moneymaking entanglements with foreign governments, said the issue was a distraction compared to the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic downturn.
“It’s not about my family or his family, it’s about your family,” Biden said. “We should be talking about your family. But that’s the last thing he wants to talk about.”
“That’s a typical politician statement,” Trump responded. “I’m not a typical politician.”
The exchange highlighted a fundamental problem for Trump: Many of the issues he has focused on are obscure to all but the most dedicated watchers of Fox News, while Biden has remained narrowly...