'Absolutely unique': Ben Mulroney gets his father's take on the U.S. presidential debate
TORONTO -- CTV's Your Morning host Ben Mulroney says he grew up in a home where talking about politics "went with breakfast, lunch and dinner," and he couldn’t help but wonder what the conversation would have been like this morning after last night's U.S. presidential debate.
So he called up his father, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, to find out how he thought U.S. President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden performed.
In an interview from his home in Montreal, Brian Mulroney said Biden was the clear winner of the debate.
"It raises the old maxim in politics that sometimes you win by not losing, and that's what happened to Joe Biden last night," Mulroney said on Wednesday. "I think he won indeed."
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The former PM explained that Trump has spent so much time during the campaign criticizing Biden that he inadvertently lowered the bar for his opponent in the first debate.
"[Trump] had denigrated him so thoroughly that the expectations for survival just sunk," Mulroney said. "All Joe had to do last night was show up and they might declare him a winner. Well, he showed up and he did better than that, he performed quite well. Not in a superior fashion but quite well, and certainly well enough to devastate President Trump in this debate."
The first debate between Trump and Biden quickly deteriorated into bitter taunts and near chaos Tuesday night with Trump repeatedly interrupting his opponent with angry, personal jabs.
Mulroney said he had "never" seen a debate like it before.
"Certainly not in Canada, and I don't think anywhere around the world, in all of the debates I've seen or participated in. This was absolutely unique," he said.
Mulroney acknowledged that debating someone like Trump would be difficult, but said Biden did well in sticking to his talking points and speaking directly to Americans, in substantive terms, about what he wants to do for them.
He said Biden showed that he is not the type of candidate who is going to respond to every "nutty comment" made by the opposition.
"Certainly, compared with the president, by keeping his cool and articulating a vision for the future of America and Americans and speaking in the camera directly... I think he scored heavily with that," Mulroney said.
Ben Mulroney suggested that the outcome for Biden may be similar to his father's debate with former prime minister John Turner in 1984, when, as leader of the Conservative Party at the time, the Conservative leader was down 14 points. Following the debate, Mulroney came out 18 points ahead of Turner.
Calling it a "huge victory," Brian Mulroney said Canadians at the time did not care about personal jabs between the two, but wanted to see who could be a leader.
"What I learned was what Canadians saw was not about a particular thing, in that case patronage, they looked at it and they saw leadership," he said, adding that Americans may feel the same way after last night's debate with votes having "little to do with the back and forth between the two candidates on other issues."
"I think Americans were probably looking at that last night and saying, 'We've heard so many negative things about Joe Biden, if he shows up and performs well my God, he can do it. So we're ready to hire him possibly to be the next president of the United States'," he added.
"But it was all on great the issue of leadership."