DC Bureau

What to expect in the first presidential debate

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WCMH) — The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in Cleveland is just hours away with a limited crowd adding to this historical moment.

“People always need to see the contrasts,” said Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. “I think the debates matter at the margins.”

Those margins are mainly undecided voters — people both candidates have to go after.

“I think the debates will help crystalize and make clear who the two candidates are,” Brown said.

As one part of his strategy, Brown expects Biden to reach out to rustbelt voters who may have gone for Trump in 2016.

“He will show that he’s not forgotten where he came from, and that he really does understand the dignity of work,” Brown said.

Genevieve Wood is a political expert at the Conservative Heritage Foundation. She expects Trump will try to appeal to voters that unexpectedly broke for him four years ago.

“If I’m the president, I’m thinking how do I remind folks who voted for me last time, who maybe normally voted for Democrats, that the economy was doing pretty good for them prior to the pandemic? How do I bring that memory back?” Wood said.

She hopes both men put policy over personality.

“I think they have very different policy platforms and so that’s what I hope we see tonight in this debate is a discussion of those things,” she said.

Wood also thinks a smaller live audience, because of COVID-19, could lend itself to a more substantive debate.

“I think they know they’re performing for people on the other side of the camera,” Wood said. “That’s who they’re trying to reach.”

The vice presidential candidates face off next week.

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