Watch Nidhi Razdan: What to make of the Trump vs Biden debate Video Credit: Gulf News

By now it is pretty clear that the first Presidential debate was a train wreck for the Democrats. Within the first 30 minutes we knew where this was going. Donald Trump spent most of the time spewing conspiracy theories and untrue statements but sounded confident and calm while doing it.

Joe Biden unfortunately looked and sounded very old and shaky, often stammering in a raspy voice. He wasn’t able to effectively counter Trump, which needed a certain level of aggression and assertiveness. As Trump spoke, Biden often looked like he was just staring ahead. His campaign tried to wave it off as a cold.

Biden and Trump were both asked about their age and capabilities. Biden answered by talking about the work he has done in office but ended up rambling about some other stuff. Trump said he “aced” his cognitive tests and made some personal digs at Biden. And then they started arguing about golf handicaps. This moment summed up the lack of substance and style in the debate.

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Heads must roll

Biden’s campaign team should be fired. The decision to go in for a debate this early in the campaign has proved to be a disaster for the Democrats. We could see Biden struggling for months now. Who thought that this was a good idea? It didn’t help that the CNN moderators did not push back and fact check the claims that were made, particularly by Trump, and asked questions almost mechanically. It was a bad night for journalism as well.

The blame also lies at the doorstep of the Biden campaign which insisted on a restrictive new set of rules for the debate which hindered proper follow ups. There was also no live audience and candidates’ microphones were muted when it was not their turn to speak. All of this was done to prevent Trump from grandstanding. It ended up shining a spotlight on Biden’s stumbles instead.

As I argued in a previous column, the time has come for the Democrats to say it out loud- Biden needs to go and they need a new nominee. The TV debate is a turning point in the US presidential election campaign. Ahead of the debate, several opinion polls showed Trump and Biden neck and neck in the race with a significant number of voters were undecided. This debate will have pushed many people to make up their minds.

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A huge caveat

The Democratic convention takes place in late August and while the party cannot remove Joe Biden as a nominee, he can step down of his own accord and allow someone else on the ticket. There are reports that alarmed by the debate, senior Democrats are seriously looking at this option now.

This is not an ordinary American presidential election. The future of American democracy is at stake. The signs are ominous. When asked during the debate if he would accept the results of the election no matter who won, Trump said yes if “it is fair and legal”. Such a huge caveat.

Sadly Americans are saddled with two questionable choices for President in this election. One with a troublesome record and another an incoherent candidate, whose demeanour has done little to reassure voters that he is capable of being back in the White House. The debate about Biden’s physical and mental fitness has been raging for a while. With this debate, it has burst right into the open and there is no going back from here.