Damning him with faint praise, conservative columnist Matt Lewis claimed Donald Trump's debate performance Thursday night was the best of the two that he attended -- having bailed out of the second one -- but that it will have little impact on the election in 11 days where he is expected to be unseated by former Vice President Joe Biden.
Writing at the Daily Beast, Lewis -- who has been highly critical of the president to the point where he left the Republican Party -- said he felt the president landed some blows on Biden in the format, which featured a mute switch, by being more restrained than anyone expected.
Saying the president needed a "knock-out" punch against his opponent, the conservative columnist said the president won Thursday's meeting but it was too little, too late.
"It’s not uncommon for presidents (think Ronald Reagan in 1984 or Barack Obama in 2012) to bounce back from a bad debate, providing the media with something of a 'comeback” narrative. And Trump’s first debate was such a disaster that it was fairly easy to show improvement. He’s defined deviancy down, or maybe dead," Lewis quipped before adding, "After the first debate debacle, the commission on presidential debates instituted a new policy which allowed the microphone of the candidate not talking to be muted. This, ironically, helped Trump appear more presidential."
According to Lewis, the biggest obstacle for Trump with time running out is that "you can’t fix four years in an hour-and-a-half."
"Trump, who needs to make up ground and threw away his chance to do that when he walked away from what was supposed to have been the second of three debates, may have won the second and final debate on points. If Trump had run his campaign the way he ran the night, that might have been enough," he wrote.
As for Biden, the conservative said the Democratic nominee had his moments while the president was harping on his son, Hunter.
"Ultimately, Biden left us with a line from the debate that might sum up his entire campaign rationale. 'You know who I am, you know who he is,' he said. 'You know his character, you know my character. You know our reputations for honor and telling the truth. I am anxious to have this race. I am anxious to see this take place. The character of the country is on the ballot.'"
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