U.S. Presidential Debate: Worrisome Aspects of Both Candidates Highlighted

The current U.S. president and a former U.S. president vehemently criticized each other, each calling the other “the worst” in history. It can hardly be said that either candidate has demonstrated the qualities and competence to be suitable choice for the leader of the United States.

Democratic candidate, President Joe Biden, and Republican candidate, former President Donald Trump, had their first televised debate for the November presidential election.

In a debate held four years ago with the same participants, there were many occasions in which one interrupted the other. This time, the microphones were turned off while the other candidate was speaking, and although there was no major confusion, the debate highlighted the problems and concerns regarding each candidate.

Most seriously, when asked if he would accept the results of the upcoming election, Trump said he would accept it if the election was “fair and legal,” effectively putting a condition on it.

Trump claimed that the 2020 election, which he lost to Biden, was “rigged.” He also denied any involvement in the following January 2021 incident in which Trump’s supporters stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol, saying that he had only asked supporters to act “peacefully and patriotically.”

On this incident, Biden decried that Trump had “encouraged those folks,” trying to give the impression that Trump would incite his supporters to cause chaos in the upcoming election as well.

Trump has complained that a court case, in which he was found guilty in May for mishandling hush money in relation to an affair, was a political persecution.

If he is going to seek the presidency again, Trump should change his attitude of disrespecting the electoral system and the judiciary, which support the foundations of democracy.

Trump also missed the point when he said of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has continued Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, ignoring international law, that if the United States had a president “that was respected by Putin … he would have never invaded Ukraine,” without criticizing him.

Despite Trump’s problematic remarks, when CNN asked viewers to rate the debate, 67% responded Trump “won,” well above Biden’s 33%.

Biden’s voice was hoarse and he was at times at a loss for words. His lackluster performance undoubtedly added to voters’ concerns about the 81-year-old Biden, the oldest U.S. president ever.

For the November election, attention is also focused on the “double haters” who do not like either Biden or Trump. The continuing turmoil in the United States caused by the unusual election campaign is likely to become a major ordeal for Japan and the rest of the world.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 29, 2024)