Biden is ahead. Will he make any unforced errors?
Time is running short for Mr. Trump to change the race's direction. So Mr. Biden has a major imperative at his town hall: Don't commit unforced errors.
For months, Mr. Trump has made unfounded claims about Mr. Biden's stamina and mental acuity, and the Trump campaign has been eager to seize on Mr. Biden's verbal missteps. Mr. Trump's repeated warnings about Mr. Biden's fitness had the effect of lowering expectations for the former vice president in the first debate.
Mr. Biden arguably cleared the bar simply by remaining upright and cogent for the duration of the matchup, but Mr. Trump is continuing to push the message that his rival has declined. At his rally on Wednesday, he said Mr. Biden was "shot" and had "lost it."
Updated Oct. 15, 2020, 4:46 p.m. ET
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Mr. Biden thrives in one-on-one interactions with voters, so the town hall presents a better format for him than a traditional debate. But Mr. Trump and his allies are certain to latch on to any notable misstep by the Democratic nominee, particularly any moment that can be used as evidence that Mr. Biden has lost a step.
Many voters detest Trump, but can Biden make an affirmative case for himself?
So much of the 2020 campaign has revolved around Mr. Trump, and many people are highly motivated to vote in November's election out of a burning desire to deny him a second term.
But whether they will be excited about Mr. Biden, too, is another question.
In the first debate, Mr. Trump's relentless interruptions did not make for an ideal setting for Mr. Biden to articulate his own vision for the country.
The town hall will give him another opportunity to make an affirmative case for a Biden presidency. It is also another chance to appeal to voters who may dislike Mr. Trump but were not initially drawn to Mr. Biden's candidacy, including many young voters who favored other Democrats in the primary race.
Mr. Biden is not lacking in subjects to talk about at the town hall. He has laid out a far-reaching and ambitious policy agenda, with plans to expand health coverage, combat climate change, shrink the racial wealth gap and revive the economy after the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. But whether he succeeds at pitching those plans at the town hall in a concise and compelling fashion remains to be seen.
Will Biden get tripped up by any policy issues?
Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, have had to navigate a series of tricky policy issues as they try to appeal to both progressives and more moderate voters.
One example is the future of the Supreme Court. Amid calls by some Democrats to add seats to the court as a countermeasure if the Senate confirms Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mr. Biden has repeatedly faced questions about whether he supports expanding the court.
Over and over, Mr. Biden declined to offer a position, saying it would be a distraction. But he said in a local television interview on Monday that he was "not a fan of court packing." That answer is not likely to put an end to questions to him on that subject.
Other politically delicate subjects include issues like taxes, the Green New Deal and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Mr. Trump has tried to portray Mr. Biden as a tool of the Democratic Party's far left, despite the former vice president's reputation as a moderate. Mr. Biden has faced the task of keeping his party united while also maintaining distance from certain proposals that could be used to paint him as far to the left.
Katie Glueck contributed reporting.