The first #debate of the 2020 presidential election is one of President Donald Trump's last best chances to shake up a race that Democrat Joe Biden is leading.
The polling has so far seemed largely impervious to news events, with Biden’s lead staying consistent through a pandemic, Supreme Court fight and more, and the president is running out of time to change that dynamic with just five weeks left until Election Day.
2. Senior moments
Either Trump, 74 or Biden, 77, would be the oldest president in American history on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021, and both have accused the other of losing a step.
Trump has made an issue of Biden's verbal flubs and malaprops, with the president and his allies essentially suggesting that the former vice president is in mental decline and can barely string together a coherent sentence without a teleprompter. A major senior moment from Biden could be devastating.
Biden allies have fired back at Trump by making similar, if less pointed, claims, singling out moments such as his unannounced visit to Walter Reed medical center last year. But Trump has been far more visible than Biden in recent months, holding regular campaign rallies and appearing at the White House nearly every day, while Biden has been holding fewer and more virtual events, so it's been harder for Democrats to sell the idea that Trump is not physically up to the job.
3. New attack lines?
The president has spent the past few months trying out different narratives against Biden, but nothing has seemed to stick.
He went after Biden's son Hunter and the work he did in Ukraine that Trump insists is corrupt and nepotistic, though fact-checkers have undercut those claims. He made Biden's mental fitness a centerpiece for awhile. Then he accused the former vice president of being a "Trojan horse" for far-left radicals.
As racial justice protests broke out in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Trump made law and order the main message of the Republican National Convention. When polling showed that broadside falling flat, Trump accused Biden of being too soft on China.
The Trump campaign released a list of 17 questions Tuesday morning that they say Biden needs to answer during the debate, the first of which was on Hunter Biden.
Campaigns are often most effective when they pick one line of attack on an opponent and hammer it incessantly. Will Trump just throw the kitchen sink at Biden? Or will he have something new?