The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden is tonight. We know the Sept. 29 debate will focus on whether Biden is prone to any gaffes or mental miscues and how Trump reacts to questions about his tax returns and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two candidates will also certainly spar over Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
We hope for a debate that focuses on what Trump and Biden have to offer communities like those here on the Eastern Shore.
COVID-19 has upended everything from the health care system, economy and jobs to schools, sports and how and where we travel.
The pandemic has highlighted issues on the Shore such as jobs, the digital divide and access to health care.
We hope Trump, Biden and moderator Chris Wallace can focus on what we are going to do going forward.
Many small business owners, restaurants and hotels — all key to the economy and the Delmarva peninsula — are still hurting from the pandemic. They need to know what Biden and Trump will do to help them.
The pandemic has also magnified digital divide issues on the Shore and in other communities across the country. It is unacceptable that we have students and families without internet access. Connectivity and internet access are essential for students attending classes virtually because of the pandemic. Internet access is also crucial for job seekers and as more employees work from home.
This is not just an Eastern Shore or rural communities issue. This is about our economic and social divides.
The divides on health care have also been magnified by the pandemic. We know the debate will have a focus on Obamacare and Trump’s efforts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.
What we need to see is how Biden and Trump will expand access to health care, especially to our most vulnerable. Lack of access, high costs and regulations of nursing homes have all played unfortunate roles in the COVID-19 pandemic, including here on the Eastern Shore.
Some COVID patients held off on going to the doctor because they lack insurance or feared hospital bills. Our community needs to hear more than Biden attacking and Trump defending his coronavirus record. We need to hear about plans for a vaccine (including concerns some have about how it could be deployed and civil liberties) as well as mask mandates.
Biden and Trump both need to tell workers — including those who have lost their jobs or had their pay cut — what they specifically are going to help them during and after the pandemic.
We need way more than platitudes and campaign promises.
Jobs are coming back, but many workers are still hurting and anxious about their next paychecks. Trump has offered a payroll tax holiday. Voters need to hear more about that and its impacts on Social Security and Medicare funding. And we need to hear more from Biden about jobs and the economy.
We know Trump’s temperament and taxes and Biden’s “cognitive capabilities” will be a focus along with whether Wallace is equally tough on both candidates.
We know there will be plenty of differences.
But we really need to see are solutions and paths forward on the pandemic, jobs and the future of our region and our country.