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UNLV professor speaks on candidate strategies for presidential debates

What you need to know about tonight's first presidential debate between Trump, Biden
Posted at 3:00 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 00:09:50-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Emphasizing “law and order” or showing “an image of moral leadership”. The strategies between President Trump and Joe Biden will on full display in Tuesday’s presidential debate.

In a consequential election year where every vote count, both President Trump and Joe Biden are looking to get every advantage they can on the debate stage. With the number of undecided voters growing smaller, both candidates are expected to pursue a similar strategy. UNLV communications studies professor Jacob Thompson says that means firing up the base.

“Trump is looking to motivate Republican voters. Biden is looking to motivate Democratic voters, and part of this election, something that will determine the outcome is turnout,” he said.

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Dr. Thompson says both candidates will look to generate enthusiasm, especially President Trump.

“I expect him to be on the offensive and leveling charges at Biden regularly. On the other hand, I think Biden will try to come across as a careful, thoughtful leader," he said.

Dr. Thompson sees some re-occurring themes both candidates will try to highlight over multiple debates.

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“Trump is obviously appealing to the law and order theme that he established in his campaign commercial. Biden is interested in talking about moral, presidential leadership.”

While Dr. Thompson expects many Nevadans to be tuned in, he says the Democrats have a big voter registration advantage in Clark County, making the state more likely to turn blue. However, the margins are close enough that how each man performs could affect turnout in the end.

“If the candidates make an argument and it appears to be specifically appealing or fall flat, then you may see some shifting in the results of the state,” he said.