The most important difference, though, was starkly highlighted by the side-by-side presentations. For Trump, the supposed businessman, everything is a war, every question an attack, and every attack demands a counterpunch. Biden, the career politician, treated each encounter as a sale. When he was challenged—on fracking and the Green New Deal, for example—he did not counterpunch. He made a counteroffer.
Trump needs enemies. After the debate, his campaign released this statement: “President Trump soundly defeated NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in her role as debate opponent and Joe Biden surrogate. President Trump masterfully handled Guthrie’s attacks and interacted warmly and effectively with the voters in the room.” The Biden campaign was not so quick to offer its own release, in part because Biden lingered afterward in the hall, talking and taking questions face-to-face, but perhaps also because it did not feel the need to identify a target for hate and rage.