Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential...
HOURS WITHOUT A GAFFE?
Biden enters the his third debate atop the field, even after his first two debate performances were criticized as lackluster, while his campaign has had to fend off questions about repeated misstatements on the campaign trail.
In the second debate in July, Biden fully embraced his role at the race's centrist, criticizing his opponents for pulling the field to the left.
At that time, Biden benefited from the chorus of other moderates joining his defence. But now, those candidates are off the stage and Biden may have to make the centrist case himself.
Biden, 76, has also faced questions from some voters about his age and whether he has the stamina to make it through a lengthy and taxing presidential race. In Houston, he will be standing next to Sanders, 78, the oldest candidate in the field.
"Biden will likely continue to take a page from Donald Trump in 2016. If you'll remember, Trump essentially, just treaded water in the debates," said Payne.
"He never won any debate but he managed to stay above the fray. Biden is likely hoping that he can ride a similar strategy to get through a splintered Dem primary." Pictured: Joe Biden speaks on the second night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, July 31, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson