But just because Trump did so much better doesn’t mean Biden did worse than he did in the first. He was fine. He didn’t win, but if he lost, he lost on points, and not many points.

He refused to play on Trump’s turf and stuck to his own message. When Trump flat-out charged that Biden had taken millions from Ukraine and China, which would make him guilty of multiple felonies, the former vice president did not lose his cool but stuck doggedly with his claim that he did nothing wrong and nothing unethical had happened.

That’s important because the Hunter Biden corruption story can only be the key to changing the race’s trajectory if (a) that connection to Joe directly can be proved rather than asserted based on a few suggestive e-mails or (b) Biden acts Hillary-like and acts in ways that keep the story alive despite its danger to him.

This was the last moment Trump will be able to go at Biden directly on the question and, though this will anger people who are hoping for the trajectory change, Biden did not do or say anything to add any logs to the fire.