PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Some 100 million Americans are expected to tune in to Tuesday night’s presidential debate. What they would like to hear and what they expect to hear are not always the same.
Debates rarely affect the outcome of an election, but candidates cannot be sure that they won’t.
So it’s an expectations game — they build up their opponent’s debate skills before the debate and then they claim victory for themselves right after the debate.
Joe Biden’s biggest Pennsylvania supporter, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, says Donald Trump has a debate advantage.
“The president has two big advantages going into the debate. Number one: he’s the incumbent,” Casey told KDKA political editor Jon Delano. “The second big advantage is that the president lies an awful lot. No team of fact checkers will be able to keep up with his lies.”
No surprise, former Santorum aide Hogan Gidley, now national press secretary for the Trump campaign, says it’s Biden who’s the experienced debater.
“He’s had 38 of them over his time in elected office, 11 of them just in this cycle alone. He beat more than 20 of his Democrat opponents to emerge as the nominee,” says Gidley. “He’s an expert at debates.”
But voters generally want candidates to address real issues.
“I would like to hear that there’s a plan in place to help stop the pandemic,” says Meghan Clista of downtown.
“About unemployment since it’s so high right now, and healthcare and things like that,” says Danielle Mangan, who is homeless.
“I want to hear truth from them. I want to hear that they’re definitely going to stand by what they say,” notes Grace Balzer of Cheswick.
But that’s not what local voters expect to hear from the candidates.
“Nothing much. Just a whole lot of false promises like the last hundreds and hundreds of years,” says Richard Rice of downtown.
“I think we’re going to hear a lot of personal attacking and low blows, trying to get people riled up,” says Jeff Barton of Oakmont.
Watch the debate on KDKA-TV and CBSN Pittsburgh at 9 p.m. Tuesday night to find out.