Hotheads In Cleveland

September 30, 2020 |

Hotheads In Cleveland: I always dread having to talk about who “won” a presidential debate because that concept is meaningless. These things aren’t even debates in any classical sense, and both sides will always argue that their “candidate” won. Last night was particularly frustrating to call a winner on because, frankly, it was difficult even to listen to. With both candidates and the moderator constantly yelling over one another, the only real winner was the maker of Excedrin. I know you don't want to bring a knife to a gunfight, but both of these guys brought bazookas.

If you’re a masochist, here’s the entire debate on YouTube.

Here are five “highlights”

And for more entertaining background and commentary, the live blogs by PJ Media and Townhall.com

As for which candidate helped himself the most (and this is totally divorced from issues like honesty, accuracy for vision for America, which barely came up), I hate to say it, but it’s probably Biden, by a hair. Both candidates have already nailed down their bases. Trump voters will vote for Trump, and Democrats would vote for a lampshade as long it wasn’t Trump. This debate needed to sway whoever those unicorns are who remain undecided.

For that, Biden had the lowest bar to clear (proving he could be awake and lucid for 90 minutes in the P.M. hours), and he cleared it, although he got wobbly at times. Trump needed to strike a more controlled “presidential” tone and prove he wasn’t the Twitter bully he’s depicted as, but his combativeness only played into that image.

I know him personally, I’ve campaigned with him, and I’ve interviewed him multiple times. I know that he's very intelligent and he can be charming, thoughtful, gracious and diplomatic. That was the Trump I wish had been at the debate last night. Unfortunately, he brought his WWE persona (perhaps that’s why Chris Wallace was as effective as a WWE referee.) Maybe he intended to throw Biden off-kilter (which did happen at several points), but overall, I think it hurt more than helped.

All the constant loud crosstalk also caused him to miss several big opportunities and distracted from the moments where he did score on Biden. It would’ve been more effective just to let Joe talk and then correct his multiple whoppers clearly. One commentator said Biden came across as old and weak, and Trump seemed to be heckling him. It wasn’t a good image for either of them.

In fact, the worst damage Biden suffered came not from attacks by Trump but things he said (or questions he dodged) himself, and all the hubbub made it easy to miss those. But I’m sure they’ll be excerpted for commercials. I also hope nobody was playing a drinking game every time Biden said the word “plan,” or you’re probably in the morgue now.

Trump inexplicably missed his chance to correct some of Biden’s repetition of blatant lies about him (like the “very fine people” among the white nationalists fake news) and should have focused more on how his economy really is better for all Americans than the Obama/Biden era. It was good that he mentioned they had the slowest recovery since the Depression, but it would’ve been nice to mention that he presided over the first rising wages in many years. He also missed an opening by not laying into Biden’s claim that he would repeal the Trump tax cut (which Dems always claim was “for the rich,” as they do for every tax cut, but repealing it would actually put a big tax hike on the middle class) and raise the capital gains tax by 7 points, both of which would slam the economy. And his vow to create thousands of good-paying “green jobs” by spending trillions of tax dollars should’ve given everyone a chilling sense of déjà vu.

Trump also should’ve been stronger in denouncing rightwing extremists. His comment about the Proud Boys is already giving the media their anti-Trump talking point. It’s ridiculous that he should constantly be asked to do this, but he could’ve pointed out that he’s already done it repeatedly, including when he “totally condemned” the ones in Charlottesville in the fake quote Biden keeps repeating. He could have asked how many times he has to condemn rightwing radicals before Biden finally condemns violent leftist radicals like Antifa who actually are destroying our cities.

Speaking of that, one of Biden’s worst moments came when he claimed that Antifa is not an organization, it’s “an idea.” So good news, Americans: your cities aren’t being burned, your businesses looted and your cops killed by an organized group of far-left radicals. That’s just being done by an amorphous concept!

Biden also might have hurt himself with the far left in his base by distancing himself from the Green New Deal (which he denied his “plan” was, then immediately called it that) and the pact with Bernie. When he was asked why, if he is the Democratic Party as he claimed, he didn’t call blue state mayors and governors and tell them to call up the National Guard and stop the rioting, his excuse that he’s just an out-of-office private citizen was astonishingly weak.

And his silence spoke volumes, both when pressed on whether he would pack the SCOTUS and to name one police organization that has endorsed him. Biden also didn’t come across as having a particularly presidential temperament. He allowed himself to get angry and lash out, calling Trump a “liar,” “racist” and “clown,” and telling him to “shut up,” which doesn’t show much respect for the office. And his claim that the allegations of shady financial deals by his son Hunter have been “debunked” was laughable. “Debunked” is another term I don’t think Democrats understand. They keep applying it to topics they don’t want to talk about without first going through the pesky step of actually debunking them.

Of course, nobody came out of this one unscathed. Chris Wallace is also taking heat from both sides for allowing it to become an uncontrolled shoutfest, although it’s not clear how he could’ve stopped it.

One Trump-supporting pundit who has more fortitude than I do watched it again and claims to have counted over 35 interruptions of Trump by Wallace but none of Biden.

In a way, it’s a sad reflection of where America is in 2020. Not even the two Presidential candidates can talk for 90 minutes without yelling and calling each other names. I think Ari Fleisher got it right when he said, “We’re not electing gladiators and this shouldn’t be a food fight. I think this was a train wreck tonight. Both candidates – too much interruption, too much back-and-forth. And that’s just not good for the country...I just think when you come to a debate you should air the differences, occasionally interrupt, get the extra point in, poke your opponent, but this was way over the top tonight, by both candidates.”

If there is another debate (and Dems are already pushing for Biden to refuse to do any more), let’s hope it’s a Zoom conference. With a mute button.

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Comments 1-25 of 256

  • Robert Deplorable Baublitz

    10/07/2020 03:05 PM

    Mr. President, in the next debate, talk about your accomplishments. You have accomplished more than (almost?) ANY other President. And in just three and two-thirds years! And in THE most rabid environment that any President has had to endure.
    Please, stick to your accomplishments, and we will all be fine come November 4th.
    God bless you Sir.

  • Jeanne Seyb

    10/05/2020 11:44 AM

    Mike tell someone to look at the Garth Brooks and etc Gershwin induction In DC which was March 3, 2020 Pelosi and others were there sitting side by side no mask hugging etc....that was after the initial scare....duh

  • Kenneth HAdlerf

    10/02/2020 11:21 AM

    I don't think President Trump is building any respect for himself with the nicknames he slaps on opponents!

  • Mary Jonas

    10/01/2020 11:38 PM

    Thanks so much for your articles which are always so informative. I dont know if Trump reads your articles but he ought to! I was so disappointed by his behavior last night. I kep telling him to be quiet!!??. With all the yelling it was hard to hear anyones points. I kept losing track of who was actually supposed to be speaking!! Please send him your article!!!!!??

  • Kay DeWitt

    10/01/2020 06:10 PM

    I AM RESUBMITTING a copy of the comment I just sent to you because I no sooner sent it when I realized I'd neglected to mention that Mark Harris also agrees with me that President Trump is not a BORN AGAIN Christian and, therefore, he is not saved!...BELOW IS COPY OF MY COMMENT:

    If you recognize my name and, upon doing so, you remember the kinds of comments I used to write to you, then, perhaps, you will have a modicum of understanding as to the grief that was mine in watching this presidential debate that made a mockery of my Lord because of the hatred that authored the verbal exchange between two men who claim to be Christians and are supposed to bear witnesses TO that by being vessels of HIS AGAPE...unconditional...love that is the "fruit" Jesus said would bear witness TO who was, or was NOT, His disciple !

    How many, many times, IN my comments to you, did I mention what WAS my AGAPE love for President Trump and because AGAPE love is simply "the desire for the loved one's ultimate best" that I could not NOT make a cry TO you that, ultimately, Trump's choice to hold rallies was going to hurt...rather than help...him win votes!....If you've read the articles in response TO his holding these rallies (in view of the pandemic) then you know my CRY TO YOU WAS VALID!

    AND how many times I expressed my cry to you about how President Trump's response to Arthur Brooks ' message at the National Prayer Breakfast was going to cost him dear because, by telling Arthur Brooks that he did not agree WITH his message...that THE only answer to unifying this country was answering hatred with love...because JESUS told us we are to love our enemies...Trump was essentially calling Jesus a liar!

    While, after watching this presidential debate....., because it again reminded me of the fact that Donald Trump is not a born again Christian and, BECAUSE he is not, if he were to die tonight, he'd open his eyes in hell....I knew that I could not NOT make another cry TO you to TELL him this since, a month ago, I saw you interviewing him sitting across from him IN THE WHITE HOUSE!

    AND while my plan was to make my cry to you in a snail mail letter, rather than IN a comment, as I am now doing, upon my reading statements in the two comments I have copied, and pasted, below, I decided TO express at least part of my cry to you BECAUSE Pamela Johnson mentioned the fact that "Republicans and Democrats hate each other" AND Terrie Gipson asked , "How can 'we the people ' get that message to President Trump?"

    Well...in answer TO her question, I know of ONE way, at least....YOU could get that message to President Trump since you have such direct access to him!!

    After attending Mark Harris' church quite a number of times now, yesterday, I had the awesome privilege of sitting down with him and personally sharing my heart...and my heart's burden...for President Trump and for our country...I also had the awesome privilege of telling him that he was THE most anointed preacher I have ever listened to here in Charlotte....and THE only man of God OF whom I can say has a prophet's heart and, BECAUSE he does, the Lord can use him as HIS mouthpiece because Mark is one of very few of whom I can also say not only knows ABOUT Jesus but knows HIM!

    So, Mike, if YOU don't want to "get that message" to President Trump why don't you ask Mark to?

    And, dear friend, because I claim to have the spiritual discernment to SEE who does, or does not, know Christ, I will also tell you that there are many of Trump's spiritual advisors who do not know Jesus who are feeding Trump spiritual cynanide....like Kenneth Copeland who wrote a booklet entitled "SORROW NOT" where he claims that sorrow is of the devil!

    No! What is of the devil is Copeland's lie that was birthed in the pit of hell because Christians who KNOW Jesus share His grief...His sorrow...over sin...which is WHY He is "A Man of Sorrows acquainted WITH grief!

    BELOW ARE THE COMMENTS I MADE MENTION OF:

    Pamela Johnson....10/01/2020 11:52 AM.. . Our wonderful country is being destroyed because Republicans and Democrats hate each other. I am ashamed when I see headline.

    Terrie Gipson.....10/01/2020 12:50 PM.....I agree with your comments about the debate. It was a disaster. I too wanted Trump to show up as "very intelligent" and "charming, thoughtful, gracious and diplomatic." I've seen it at times and the country needed to see it so badly at the debate, I mean fiasco. How can "we the people" get that message to President Trump?

  • Kay DeWitt

    10/01/2020 05:32 PM

    If you recognize my name and, upon doing so, you remember the kinds of comments I used to write to you, then, perhaps, you will have a modicum of understanding as to the grief that was mine in watching this presidential debate that made a mockery of my Lord because of the hatred that authored the verbal exchange between two men who claim to be Christians and are supposed to bear witnesses TO that by being vessels of HIS AGAPE...unconditional...love that is the "fruit" Jesus said would bear witness TO who was, or was NOT, His disciple !

    How many, many times, IN my comments to you, did I mention what WAS my AGAPE love for President Trump and because AGAPE love is simply "the desire for the loved one's ultimate best" that I could not NOT make a cry TO you that, ultimately, Trump's choice to hold rallies was going to hurt...rather than help...him win votes!....If you've read the articles in response TO his holding these rallies (in view of the pandemic) then you know my CRY TO YOU WAS VALID!

    AND how many times I expressed my cry to you about how President Trump's response to Arthur Brooks ' message at the National Prayer Breakfast was going to cost him dear because, by telling Arthur Brooks that he did not agree WITH his message...that THE only answer to unifying this country was answering hatred with love...because JESUS told us we are to love our enemies...Trump was essentially calling Jesus a liar!

    While, after watching this presidential debate....., because it again reminded me of the fact that Donald Trump is not a born again Christian and, BECAUSE he is not, if he were to die tonight, he'd open his eyes in hell....I knew that I could not NOT make another cry TO you to TELL him this since, a month ago, I saw you interviewing him sitting across from him IN THE WHITE HOUSE!

    AND while my plan was to make my cry to you in a snail mail letter, rather than IN a comment, as I am now doing, upon my reading statements in the two comments I have copied, and pasted, below, I decided TO express at least part of my cry to you BECAUSE Pamela Johnson mentioned the fact that "Republicans and Democrats hate each other" AND Terrie Gipson asked , "How can 'we the people ' get that message to President Trump?"

    Well...in answer TO her question, I know of ONE way, at least....YOU could get that message to President Trump since you have such direct access to him!!

    After attending Mark Harris' church quite a number of times now, yesterday, I had the awesome privilege of sitting down with him and personally sharing my heart...and my heart's burden...for President Trump and for our country...I also had the awesome privilege of telling him that he was THE most anointed preacher I have ever listened to here in Charlotte....and THE only man of God OF whom I can say has a prophet's heart and, BECAUSE he does, the Lord can use him as HIS mouthpiece because Mark is one of very few of whom I can also say not only knows ABOUT Jesus but knows HIM!

    So, Mike, if YOU don't want to "get that message" to President Trump why don't you ask Mark to?

    And, dear friend, because I claim to have the spiritual discernment to SEE who does, or does not, know Christ, I will also tell you that there are many of Trump's spiritual advisors who do not know Jesus who are feeding Trump spiritual cynanide....like Kenneth Copeland who wrote a booklet entitled "SORROW NOT" where he claims that sorrow is of the devil!

    No! What is of the devil is Copeland's lie that was birthed in the pit of hell because Christians who KNOW Jesus share His grief...His sorrow...over sin...which is WHY He is "A Man of Sorrows acquainted WITH grief!

    BELOW ARE THE COMMENTS I MADE MENTION OF:

    Pamela Johnson....10/01/2020 11:52 AM.. . Our wonderful country is being destroyed because Republicans and Democrats hate each other. I am ashamed when I see headline.

    Terrie Gipson.....10/01/2020 12:50 PM.....I agree with your comments about the debate. It was a disaster. I too wanted Trump to show up as "very intelligent" and "charming, thoughtful, gracious and diplomatic." I've seen it at times and the country needed to see it so badly at the debate, I mean fiasco. How can "we the people" get that message to President Trump?

  • Renee Kendrick

    10/01/2020 04:16 PM

    Have read most of the posted comments about your take on the debate. My favorite was the one about the two candidates being a pit bull and a prissy pomeranian on leashes barking at each other. The laughter is still rolling as I write this!!!

    The other one was about Biden winning the sympathetic vote when he was almost in tears talking about his son, Beau. Sure, I acknowledge that losing a child is one of the most difficult losses to grieve. But Biden's son did not die in combat.

    I have greater sympathy for the American families who have lost loved ones in battle. I also have greater sympathy for the families who lose babies to abortion.

    Yes, there are feelings grief and loss for those lives, even though the media doesn't share such information. That's because their consciences have been seared with a hit iron until they are numb.

    Don't give the sympathetic vote to Biden just yet. He still has much to prove as he was all over the place about his agenda for this country.

    I will be voting for MY country, which is inhabited by MY church, MY family, MY friends, MY pets, and MYself.

  • Vernon Hinz

    10/01/2020 04:08 PM

    I thought the debate was a disster. BUT I have an idea why trump was acting the way he was. They wanted Biden to be checked out for eletronic devices and he refused at the last minute. Trump thought he might have a hearing bud in his ear and this way Trump was able to disrupt any chance of him receiving information by remote. Just my theory on what I have seen,

  • Jean Tozar

    10/01/2020 02:45 PM

    Weak gladiators ... Interesting analogy .
    Though have to agree Trump had lots of ammo placed in his plate he could have used....And will nxt time.
    Biden doesnt have a chance. Oerhaos a lamp shade would be a better choice for the Dem's.

  • Shauna dickerson

    10/01/2020 02:26 PM

    I've never heard of "Proud Boys", so how well is this epithet known. When it comes to violence we only hear of antifa so I'm thinking they are the most active. I've heard some from people like you who really know Trump that he's smart, funny, gracious. I believe that, I wish he would show that side of himself. people keep talking about Biden as being "nice" as if we need nice to talk to Iran or N,.Korea. It's dumb, but there you are,.

  • Glenda B Scott

    10/01/2020 02:24 PM

    I was exhausted after listening to the 'debate'!?!?! Your commentary summed it up well, but I'd give victory to Trump for adding humor ("China ate your lunch, Joe.")

    I attribute the chaos to the poorly organized debate format. Doomed for failure from the start. To omit time for civilized rebuttal and just open it up for a 2 minute dialog between them was a disaster.

    A Parliamentary Debate format would have served better where Speaker #1 is given time, then Speaker #2 gets time. Then Speaker #1 gets time for a rebuttal to Speaker #2 and that could continue back and forth, ending in Speaker #1 finishing with the rebuttal speech. Unfortunately, time for Speaker #1's rebuttal was omitted causing MASSIVE CHAOS when they both fought for the last word. If given rebuttal time, speakers would use paper and pen to make notes for comments when it's their turn. Calm. Civilized. Informative.

    Plus, there were way too many issues crammed into one debate. Given more time to get beneath the surface could have actually been productive. All we got was like the nasty memes we see on social media with no substance.

    If the debate were in my classroom, both candidates would have gotten a "time out." Wallace would get a "D" for asking loaded questions with misinformation and interfering in the debate itself (poor etiquette). He didn't get an 'F' only because he was patient with the dueling candidates and didn't cuss. Then I'd have ALL 3 of them read the rules for Parliamentary Debate, each pick a couple topics and craft a format that included opportunity for rebuttal. Then they all could have a 'Do Over."

    Of course, I'd have control of the 'mute' button, but, hey, that's because its my classroom...

  • Viviana

    10/01/2020 01:39 PM

    You're 100% right Huckabee, it did look like a food fight lol at times it was hilarious! I couldn't stop laughing it was definitely a popcorn show lol. At times I was getting annoyed not being able to hear the answers from each other, I really wanted to hear the answer from Biden asked by Trump about if Biden ever made a call to the Dems city to stop the riots but unfortunately Trump was too busy knocking Biden out with he's T punches lol and Biden for being a grown great great great great grandfather lol name calling the President of the greatest country on earth a clown! that was so childish of him and telling Trump to shut up ! Biden was very disrespectful lost all if he ever had any self respect and integrity I only saw Trump lacking courtesy which Biden did the same thing interrupting Trump and if anything how did Biden get away looking straight into the camera pandering with compete silence!? I felt i was being hypnotize lol Trump never got that graceful opportunity. No matter what Trump won that debate and I'm looking forward to the next one lol I know I'll be voting for Trump again! He loves our country and he's the only one who can save it from the enemy's within. God Bless all your efforts Trump!

  • Terrie Gipson

    10/01/2020 12:50 PM

    I agree with your comments about the debate. It was a disaster. I too wanted Trump to show up as "very intelligent" and "charming, thoughtful, gracious and diplomatic." I've seen it at times and the country needed to see it so badly at the debate, I mean fiasco. How can "we the people" get that message to President Trump?

  • Diana Heath

    10/01/2020 12:04 PM

    Could not agree with you more!! Wish you were running!!

  • Pamela Johnson

    10/01/2020 11:52 AM

    I think all Americans need to really look at what happened with the debate. This is the time we need to move past our differences and work together. Our wonderful country is being destroyed because Republicans and Democrats hate each other. I am ashamed when I see headlines in the BBC calling the debate "the night that US democracy hit rock bottom" and concerned that we are on track for a civil war between the far left and far right.

  • Julie Miller

    10/01/2020 11:40 AM

    A friend posted this comment about the debate today.

    I watched the presidential debate to the bitter end.
    My summary:
    A polished smooth politician and a lion. And the lion is fighting for us.
    The End.

  • Jeanne Seyb

    10/01/2020 11:38 AM

    Mike our country doesn’t need any more examples like we had at the first debate !!!! Is there anyone that the President will listen to about his words and actions...no I am not talking about a 5 year old although it may sound that way !!!! I support him I think he has done so many good things for our country I will vote for him....but I was totally embarrassed by his behavior ...not at all presidential. We have family that are Democrats who won’t speak to us because we support Trump I know they were having a hay day with his constant interruptions etc....Biden was good either but did not look as bad as Trump. I said before yes he is Trump but don’t let them trump you .....I think that’s what he is doing. God Bless America ????????????????????

  • Charlotte Farley

    10/01/2020 10:56 AM

    I sadly agree with you, Mr Huckabee. I feel Wallace should have never been up there. I can think of many people that could have done a better job, I feel Mr Wallace is partial to the Democrat side, so different from what I remember of his dad. I am thankful & grateful for all you do, Mr Huckabee. Also, love that Sarah!!

  • Patricia Young

    10/01/2020 10:48 AM

    I agree with you completely regarding the debate. Perhaps these three men are a reflection of ourselves. Their conduct was despicable from the questions asked to the answers given. Be grown up or don't waste our time.

  • Bishop Edward Skiba

    10/01/2020 10:45 AM

    It was not a debate, it was a urinary olympics! Sorry, I'm a retired sailor and some of the salt still surfaces.

  • Robert Zegel

    10/01/2020 10:36 AM

    Thirty minutes was all I could stand before turning it off; I can't stand Chris Wallace, and he is one of the reasons why I parted from Fox News.

  • Richard Casuccio

    10/01/2020 10:12 AM

    I could squeeze your bones to dust ! LOVE READING UR COLUMN , and listening to ur daughter !!!!!!

  • Sherry Darnell

    10/01/2020 09:40 AM

    Oh my governor ....it was Barnham and Bailey time. It was actually embarrassing. My husband couldn't take it at all and had to Stop watching saying petulant children all ! Chris Wallace was the worst moderator ever ever ! We will be in line in person to vote for president Trump for certain and nothing will change that. If only President Trump would have kept his cool and let Biden hang himself he would have. The entire debate if one could call it that was a disgrace !

  • Nancy Jones

    10/01/2020 08:53 AM

    I, too, was very disappointed in President Trump's behavior at the debate. Not very Presidential. It won't change my vote by any stretch of the imagination, but I pray that the next debate is held with much more control and graciousness. I agree with you that President Trump missed several opportunities to prove his point of how much better Americans are economically (except for COVID-19) and what he has accomplished with the Israel peace agreements and China who should be blocked from even importing anything to America. It was obvious that Biden overlooked answering a couple of important issues and skirted others. This was the first debate I have watched in several years and am not sure I will watch another if it turns into the debacle this last one did. So sad. Thank you for your continued updates mon what is happening — I love reading your daily newsletters.

  • Judy Stiles

    10/01/2020 08:42 AM

    Look, as much as I dislike interrupting and such...Trump has to use the very few opportunities he has to tell the TRUTH to America because the main stream media refuses to and doesn't report so much of what America needs to know. America is being hoodwinked by FAKE NEWS....let Trump talk!!