The first presidential debate was largely fought to a draw. But it should have been a win for President Donald Trump.
Trump dominated former Vice President onstage — a tactic that Biden used against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in 2012. He contrasted his policies and Biden’s in ways that were favorable to him. He pummeled Biden on his record, and forced Biden to choose between the moderate voters he must reach and the left-wing base he must appease.
But Trump failed to stop Biden’s hoaxes.
Throughout his campaign, Biden has relied on several false claims — roughly six in total. They never change. He even has some of them memorized.
He is never called out on them by the media. But they are easily debunked.
All of them came up, predictably, during the first debate. Trump should have been prepared for all of them. He barely pushed back against two of the six. Two out of six is not good enough.
He missed a prime opportunity. There really is no excuse. He has to prepare better.
1. The Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax. Moderator Chris Wallace repeated the lie that Trump referred to neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people.” On cue, Biden used his script: “coming out of the fields, carrying torches, their veins bulging.” Trump interjected — “Finish the statement” — but Wallace shut him down. Trump needed to use his next response to say: “Look at what I said. I condemned the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists ‘totally.’ Stop lying to America, Joe.”
2. The “inject bleach” hoax. Biden claimed — as he has before — that Trump said “maybe you could inject some bleach in your arm” for coronavirus. Trump never said that. He spoke at a press briefing about using ultraviolet light as a disinfectant, asking about experimental uses inside the body. At the time, when asked if he was telling people to inject disinfectant, Trump said no. Inexplicably, Trump told Biden at the debate that he was being “sarcastic.” He needed to call Biden’s claim a lie.
3. The “white supremacists” hoax. Both Wallace and Biden falsely suggested that Trump had never condemned white supremacists before. Trump tried to deflect. He should have immediately said: “That’s not true. I have condemned white supremacists over and over again — and I do so here again tonight. I condemn white supremacy.” He then should have pivoted to Biden’s record: “Joe Biden told black people they’re not black if they don’t vote for him. What a thing to say.”
4. The “China” hoax. Biden claimed, falsely, that Trump “did not even ask Xi” to allow U.S. investigators into China at the start of coronavirus. He has used that false claim before — and it has even been debunked by the Washington Post. Trump’s only reply was: “Wrong.” He needed more detail. Trump did ask China to admit U.S. investigators for weeks, and they were allowed in before Biden even brought it up. He should cite the Washington Post, which gave Biden “three Pinnocchios.”
5. The “peaceful protesters” hoax. Biden repeatedly claims that Trump 1. ordered the military to 2. use tear gas 3. to clear “peaceful protesters” from the park in front of the White House to walk across and 4. hold a Bible upside-down. Biden used three out of the four. Trump needs to say: 1. It was the Park Police. 2. They did not use tear gas. 3. The protest was violent, and assaulted police and journalists. 4. He held the Bible as a symbol of right and wrong, and Biden was on the wrong side.
6. The Atlantic “suckers” and “losers” hoax. Biden repeated the Atlantic‘s claim that Trump called Americans who died in World War I “suckers” and “losers.” It is a phony claim that has been specifically denied by John Bolton — a Trump critic — among others. Trump should have said that — immediately. Instead, he brought up Biden’s wayward son, Hunter Biden — a legitimate target, but a wasted opportunity. Trump returned to the Atlantic story later — but a hoax has to be killed right away.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.