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The presidential debate: Above all a test of Biden's mental faculties

The long-awaited exchange between the two candidates is approaching.   There is a lot of talk about people's expectations of the current president's performance.  For a while now he seems to have been avoiding public appearances and questions from reporters as much as possible.

President Joe BidenAFP

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Millions of Americans are eagerly awaiting the first presidential debate.  Expectations revolve not only around the exchange between the two candidates.  But for many it is very important to see President Biden's performance and try to clear up doubts surrounding his cognitive abilities.  Although the Democrat will go down in history as one of the presidents who has given the fewest press conferences, the few times he has made statements, or given public appearances, have left Americans feeling doubtful about his state of mental health.

With increasing regularity President Biden seems totally lost, says nonsensical phrases, confuses names or looks like he's not even standing upright.  Biden's own Justice Department has said that the president, because of his "poor" memory, is unfit to stand trial.  Special prosecutor Robert Hur, who was investigating Biden's mishandling of classified documents, said in his report that due to the president's mental state he did not recommend bringing charges against him, as it would be difficult to convince a jury that Biden is always aware of his actions and can answer for them.

Many Americans simply to want to know the president's actual state of mind.  On a couple of occasions when Biden has delivered prepared speeches, he seems to have done well, as in the State of the Union address, but doubts skyrocket when a few days later he was seen to be completely lost and sometimes unable even to respond coherently.  Former President Donald Trump even suggested that the president should take a drug test before doing the debate.  Biden has been in a kind of retreat for days preparing for the exchange with Trump, adding to the suspicions of those who believe that the president in his day-to-day life is not in a good frame of mind.

The fact that former President Trump had agreed to virtually all the conditions imposed by Biden for the debate demonstrates the republican's enormous confidence that just giving the president a lot of airtime and showing him interacting in a conversation, will already be enough to highlight his predicament.  The Biden campaign went so far as to demand that there be no audience at the debate; it is clear to many that the president cannot concentrate when there are people interrupting around him.

Aside from the president's mental faculties, for months now the campaigns of the two candidates have had two very clear and distinct strategies.  While former President Trump harps on the problems that most affect Americans, such as inflation, the border crisis and crime, President Biden's campaign has focused its strategy on portraying Trump as a threat to democracy.

We are sure to see Biden reminding people that Trump is a convicted felon and repeatedly mentioning what happened on January 6 to try to convince voters that Trump does not respect democracy and that voting for the Dems is the only option if the country is to be kept on a constitutional path.  However, even  prestigious Democratics critique this as a "losing" strategy since when people's main concern is the economy, presenting a former president as a threat to democracy does not seem convincing and motivating enough for the average voter.

In fact, for Republican voters the issue is precisely the other way around.  Millions of Americans distrust the judicial system and believe that Biden is using it against his opponent.  Trump's multiple indictments (which all appeared just a few months before the election), the gag order against him, the weeks he has had to spend in court and other facts such as the lack of credibility of the prosecutors involved in the indictments or the lack of foundation for the cases, have all actually given Trump a boost in the polls.

Thursday's debate is very important for the country.  It is an opportunity for Americans to see for the first time in a long time President Biden tackle a long speech and as well as the debate itself, and undoubtedly have to respond to the former president accusations.  It will be a pivotal time for the Republican to use the national platform to dig deep into Trump's proposals to solve the major dilemmas facing the country.