‘A Huge Misstep’: Trump Allies Fear Debate Performance Only Weakened Trump Campaign

US President Donald Trump looks on during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOE... US President Donald Trump looks on during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 29, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 1, 2020 8:10 a.m.

While the Trump campaign on Wednesday sought to claim President Donald Trump’s victory over Democratic rival Joe Biden after the first presidential debate, Trump aides and allies involved in his reelection effort have said Trump’s performance served only to weaken his bid. 

Per Politico, who spoke to a number of Trumpworld figures after the debate, Dallas investor Doug Deason, a GOP megadonor and Trump supporter, said that Trump’s constant interruptions only bolstered Biden.

“They’re blaming Biden, but they’re not happy with Trump. The president should have sat back and let Biden just talk himself into circles, but instead he kept interrupting.”

“He saved Biden’s day by doing that,” Deason added. “It was a huge misstep.”

Another person involved with the president’s campaign told Politico that they couldn’t fault voters who struggled to watch the debate in its entirety: “The few independents that we need, I imagine some of them just flipped the channel after the first hour.”

Trump and Biden are scheduled for a second debate in Miami on Oct. 15, where Trump’s allies are hoping their candidate will quit interfering and replace childish insults with sharp one-liners that they say enhanced Trump’s 2016 performance during the GOP primary debates. 

Without rectifying some of these bigger blunders, the President’s allies told Politico that Trump could end up permanently jeopardizing his effort to win over undecided voters and undo some of his effort to shore up support among women voters.

Seth Weathers, former director of Trump’s Georgia campaign, told Politico that Trump should have refused to discuss other topics until Biden offered a clear stance on expanding the court if elected, adding that Trump could have delivered a “more theatrical” response instead of constantly cutting in as Biden addressed the court-packing question.

“Are you going to pack the court? Are you going to pack the court? He doesn’t want to answer the question,” Trump chided during the debate.

Even former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has spent the past few weeks in debate preparation with Trump, admitted he was “too hot” and “too aggressive” on the debate stage. 

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh tried to recast the narrative. 

“President Trump controlled the entire conversation,” Murtaugh said in a statement to Politico, suggesting that Trump kept Biden “on his heels and looking weak.” 

“We are enthusiastic about the upcoming debates and look forward to them,” Murtaugh added.

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