US election: Donald Trump's new debate tactic stuns viewers

Kamilia Palu
·News Editor
·4-min read

The second and final presidential debate between US president Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden became a trending Twitter topic before it even began, but one aspect of the debate has sent social media into a frenzy.

The first debate was slammed as a “disgrace” and a “total sh**show” after it devolved into a shouting contest between the two candidates.

This time around, President Trump’s behaviour was once again a main discussion point during the debate – but for an entirely different reason.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University.
President Trump's demeanour in the final debate with challenger Joe Biden's became a major talking point on Twitter. Source: Getty

Trump was criticised after September’s debate for continuously interrupting and speaking over the top of his rival, causing major changes to be introduced to Friday’s event including strict time limits and a mute button.

As the final debate kicked off, it soon became apparent that the president was taking a different tactic.

His demeanour was calmer and interruptions were far and few between. He even managed to compliment the moderator, journalist Kristen Welker.

The radically different approach to the debate set tongues wagging on Twitter.

But while most agreed the debate ran smoother this time around, not all viewers were convinced it was enough to put Trump in the lead.

Muted microphones introduced to prevent chaos

Each candidate's microphone could be silenced to allow the other to make two minutes of opening remarks at the beginning of each 15-minute segment of the debate.

Both microphones were to be turned on to allow a back and forth after that time.

Trump's campaign immediately objected to the change when it was announced, but said he would still take part.

Whether because of that button or the terrible reviews of the first debate - especially for Trump - the candidates interrupted each other far less frequently, even as they clashed on issues ranging from the coronavirus to crime to global warming.

While Trump and Biden responded to each other's answers - shaking their heads disapprovingly or smiling, in the case of Biden - the two largely avoided speaking over one another. And neither man tried to speak at length while he was muted during opening questions.

Trump, in particular, was on his best behaviour, especially early on, and especially when it came to the moderator, whom he'd repeatedly attacked before the debate.

"So far, I respect very much the way you're handling this," Trump said to NBC's Kristen Welker when she gave him time to respond to Biden at one point.

Campaigns in home stretch

With less than two weeks to go before the November 3 election, Trump trails Biden in most national public opinion polls but the contest looks closer in a number of states that could determine the winner.

Biden's campaign raised vastly more funds than US President Donald Trump's campaign in early October, leaving the former vice president with a major cash advantage in the final stretch of the campaign.

Biden raised about US$130 million (A$183 million) during the October 1-14 period, about three times the roughly US$44 million raised by Trump's campaign, but he spent about twice as much as Trump did during the period.

with AAP

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