Florida Atlantic University professor explains what to look for in first presidential debate

Debate will focus on 6 topics
Posted at 2:05 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 18:52:31-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — President Trump and Joe Biden will face-off Tuesday night in Cleveland in the first presidential debate.

WPTV spoke with a professor at Florida Atlantic University about what viewers can expect.

Tuesday's debate will be the first of three between Trump and Biden. The presidential election is now only five weeks away.

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"I don't think you win elections at debates, but you can lose them," said Kevin Wagner, a political science professor at Florida Atlantic University.

Wagner said this election season is different than others because both candidates are well known to most Americans.

Trump didn't have a political resume when he ran for office in 2016.

"He will have to defend some of his own record rather than just critiquing others," Wagner said.

On WPTV's Facebook page, we asked what issues South Florida residents want to see discussed during the debate.

Questions and topics from the WPTV Facebook post included:

  • Will be a bill for term limits?
  • How can we have a better tax system?
  • What is the plan to fix the economy after COVID-19?
  • Education
  • Health Care

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Kevin Wagner, FAU political science professor
Florida Atlantic University professor Kevin Wagner says it will be important for both presidential candidates to connect with the American people during the debates.

Wagner said 2020 has been so unpredictable that this debate may also be unlike any other.

"It may provide for a certainly less predictable election outcome," Wagner said.

There are six topics planned for the debate:

  • Trump and Biden records
  • Supreme Court
  • COVID-19
  • Economy
  • Race and violence in our cities
  • The integrity of the election

The format for the first debate calls for six 15-minute time segments without commercial interruption to discuss the topics.

Wagner said one thing to watch for during the debate is the visuals.

"Sometimes, the visuals are more important, the candidate and the confidence they have and how they speak. Are they connecting with the American people," Wagner said.