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Springfield Government Professor Weighs In On First Presidential Debate

Ryan Welch
KSMU Radio


People are still discussing the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden Tuesday. KSMU asked a government professor to weigh in on how the first debate went.


The topics of the first presidential debate included the Supreme Court, the President’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, race relations, the economy, climate change, and accepting the results of the 2020 election.

Robert Bartels is associate professor of government at Evangel University in Springfield. He says the debate was dominated by Trump interrupting Biden and the moderator Chris Wallace.

“It was non-stop combative. I’ve never seen that in a debate before. I’ve gone to many different debate settings and I’ve never seen it to that extent, was that combative.”

He says Biden’s strategy was to speak directly to the camera and remain calm. Although in some parts of the debate Biden seemingly lost his temper.

Bartels says Trump’s strategy was to overwhelm Biden with attacks. He says he’s not sure if it’s a good strategy, but he thinks the interruptions meant Biden wasn’t able to get in as many talking points as Trump.

When asked if Biden won the debate and the impact it might have on the election, Bartels says it’s hard to say.

“There are different audiences out there who took it different ways. Some see him winning, some see him losing. Either way, I think it’s Trump’s to lose. I don’t know that it’s Biden’s to win.”