Joe Biden is not running an energetic campaign. In fact, he really doesn't seem to be campaigning at all. Then again, he doesn't have to. The Main Stream Media is running the campaign for him. In 2016, the MSM went through the pretense of being objective, reporting on Hillary Clinton's email scandal and some of the less savory aspects of the Clinton Foundation. However, the lesson the MSM took from 2016 is "Never Again" and so on every channel (including Fox News most of the time), it's endless fake scandals, outrageous spin, thinly veiled demands for deplatforming, and double standards.
Journalists truly regard themselves as a Fourth Estate, a governing class. President Trump recognizes this: "My biggest opponet isn't Biden, it's not the Democrats, it's the corrupt media. We have a corrupt media in this country, the likes of which nobody's ever seen before" [Trump says his biggest opponent in 2020 is the media. He's right. by Becket Adams, Washington Examiner, August 17, 2020]
That said, Biden will be the man President Trump faces tomorrow. Considering MSM bias and low expectations, all Biden has to do is stumble through some rehearsed lines and he will be proclaimed the winner.
President Trump has spent the last year denigrating Biden’s mental acuity and intelligence. He's also talked about how easily Biden could be dispatched from the debate stage if they eventually met. This inaccurate caricature is a major reason why Biden's Democratic National Convention acceptance speech was so positively received. It was a solid 24-minute effort that genuinely surprised a lot of people given what they had previously heard from President Trump about his opponent's health and intellect.
As we've gotten closer to this year's first debate, Trump and his campaign have started to lower their expectations, while praising the 47 years of public service and speaking experience of Biden. They haven't gone as far as George W. Bush's campaign team, who famously compared opponent John Kerry to the legendary orator Cicero. It is true that Biden had two excellent vice-presidential debate performances and held his own against Bernie Sanders in March. The question is whether this new expectations strategy is too little, too late and will inevitably be undermined by mixed messages and errant tweets from Trump. The distinct possibility exists that Biden will be deemed the winner so long as he doesn't fall off the stage or commit some similar high-profile blunder.
[President Trump faces Herculean task in first debate, by Aaron Kall, The Hill, September 28, 2020]
What can President Trump do? Though he is the incumbent, he must return to being the wrecking ball he was in 2016. He will be asked questions about COVID-19, riots, and judges, and the temptation will be for him to act defensive and say he's done a great job. That won't work. The best thing he can do is maintain frame control and press home the points he wants regardless of the question. Furthermore, he needs to slam Joe Biden on issues that the Democrat doesn't want to talk about, especially immigration.
The President of the United States will not win this election by running as a typical incumbent. He has to shove Joe Biden out of his basement, openly call him a puppet of the media, and throw him off his guard with slashing attacks. Biden will have his rehearsed lines and I don't think he's going to start rambling or collapse on the podium. The moderators will have his back.
Despite the comforting platitudes that he's actually winning and the polls are all fake, I can't help but be reminded of the "Red Wave" predictions in 2018. Donald Trump needs to run like he's losing and attack, attack, attack. If he counts on Joe Biden to simply destroy himself, it's not going to happen. If Biden is to be destroyed, it must happen at Trump's hands.
Republicans would do well not to set exceedingly low expectations of Biden in advance of tomorrow’s debate.— Faith Goldy (@FaithGoldy) September 29, 2020
~ A Canadian who saw Trudeau become PM bc he was able to (uh um, barely) string together a sentence, which was more than what anyone expected