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A Missed Moment for Trump? Second Debate Suggests What Might Have Been

Mr. Trump returned to that point as he campaigned at The Villages retirement home in Florida. “I said whoa, do you want to get rid of oil and gas?” the president said. “Is that — yeah, we want to phase it out. I said thank you, Texas, are you watching? Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Ohio, are you watching?’’

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And Mr. Biden gave a speech in Delaware in which he assailed Mr. Trump for his handling of the pandemic, which polls suggest has turned many Americans against the president.

“President Trump said he found a cure,” Mr. Biden said, drawing on the president’s remarks from the night before. “But let me tell you, we have 1,000 people dying every day.”

Republicans, looking for encouragement in the face of discouraging polls, said they hoped the boisterous and crowded rallies that the president is embarking on in battlegrounds from Wisconsin to North Carolina this weekend, against the urging of health care officials, would offer a powerful contrast with Mr. Biden and translate into enthusiasm and end-of-campaign voter turnout.

“The Biden beat-the-clock strategy is running out of steam, and the contrast with Trump’s rallies and energy is remarkable,” said Scott Reed, who was campaign manager for Bob Dole when he ran for president in 1996. “Enthusiasm matters down the homestretch, and this race is far from over.”

Even before their final debate, Mr. Biden had been fending off charges that he supported a ban on fracking, a potentially damning line of attack in states like Pennsylvania. He said at the debate that he supported only a ban on fracking on federally owned land, a distinction that might have been lost in the tumult of the closing moments.

Mr. Biden is planning two stops in Pennsylvania on Saturday, appearances that were planned before the debate but that now give him the opportunity to address any damage he might have done with his comments on fossil fuels.

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