First presidential debate to take place ahead of US 2020 elections

President Donald Trump and Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden will meet tonight in Cleveland, Ohio for the first of

trump biden debate

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump and Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden will meet tonight in Cleveland, Ohio for the first of three highly anticipated debates.

Chris Wallace of Fox News will moderate tonight’s debate. Expect Biden to focus on policy and emphasise Trump’s perceived inadequate handling of the COVID-19 pandemic while Trump is likely to approach the debate as a personal duel with his rival.

Throughout the debates, expect the two candidates’ opposing views on the US’s global alliances to feature prominently. While Biden views these multilateral alliances as the linchpin of American security and world standing, Trump has often operated on the basis of transactional concerns.

The differing approaches are especially evident in the two candidates’ approach to the transatlantic relationship with Europe. Trump has often suggested that the EU was founded to take advantage of the US, while threatening a US withdrawal from NATO due to a perceived lack of European defence spending. On the contrary, Biden has underscored that shared values are too vital to be jeopardised by any short-term transactional consideration.

Expect a Biden administration to prioritise revitalising the strained transatlantic relationship as a top foreign policy objective. In turn, Trump’s re-election could lead to the disentanglement of modern history’s most fruitful partnership, strengthening calls for a more autonomous EU foreign policy and a European army along the lines proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

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