Joe Biden’s road to the White House was knocked permanently off course last Thursday night after the former US vice president put in an underwhelming performance at the 2020 Democratic debate.

On top of slurring his words, the 76-year-old came across as confused and indecisive, his misery compounded by several attacks from Kamala Harris – the biggest winner on the night.

Read More: Biden would beat Trump in a head to head, IrishCentral readers vote

Biden was the Democratic front runner by some margin even before launching his White House bid last April, and it appeared allegations of inappropriate behavior were craftily weathered by the 50 year Washington veteran.

24 hours after formally announcing his candidacy, he banked an impressive $6.3 million haul and a sharp spike in polling appeared to solidify his position as the Democratic favorite.

Before this week’s debates, those gains had all but evaporated - fuelled by his lackluster campaign and restricted public appearances which have failed to energize his evolving party.

RealClearPolitics polls show a sharp spike for Biden after announcing his candidacy. Those gains have all but disappeared. Image: RealClearPolitics

RealClearPolitics polls show a sharp spike for Biden after announcing his candidacy. Those gains have all but disappeared. Image: RealClearPolitics

He has been dull and uninspiring - flip-flopping on issues like the Hyde Amendment and China, bunkered down in defense of segregationist senators while allegations his son Hunter profited from his position as vice president in dealings with China and Ukraine linger.

Biden has been vague on policy too, shaping his campaign as a crusade of morality against Donald Trump - which this writer already warned was doomed to failure.

Read More: Joe Biden is a touchy-feely, old-style Irish politician - get used to him

Biden’s age and notoriety for gaffes were always potential stumbling blocks yet last week he played into the narrative of an aged politician stuck in yesteryear while a new generation demanded he step aside.

There was no Ronald Reagan / Walter Mondale moment for the former Delaware senator when California Congressman Eric Swalwell instructed him to “pass the torch,” just a wry smile and an unconvincing, “I’m still holding onto that torch, I want to make it clear to you,” retort.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) speak during a break in the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Image: Getty

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) speak during a break in the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on June 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Image: Getty

Asked to name the first thing he would try to do after being elected president, Biden said that he would, "defeat Donald Trump."

Biden stood on stage as a battle-scarred trouper yet the candidates were past the point of deference - eager to rub salt into old wounds.

None was more willing than the only black woman in the 2020 presidential race, California Senator Kamala Harris, who, while initially declaring she didn’t believe Biden was a racist – proceeded to play the race card.

 Sen. Kamala Harris (R) (D-CA) and former Vice President Joe Biden (L) speak as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) looks on during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate. Image: Getty

Sen. Kamala Harris (R) (D-CA) and former Vice President Joe Biden (L) speak as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) looks on during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate. Image: Getty

Harris criticized Biden for recently highlighting his decades-old work with segregationist senators and his opposition to public school busing during the 1970s — of which she claimed to have been directly affected.

It created the night’s main talking point where Biden seemed unassured and abruptly reached to the clock for respite. “Anyway my time is up,” he astonishingly declared.

Harris’ argument may not pass the smell test against a politician who served as the right-hand man to America’s first black president, but that doubt may yet fester in the minds of black American’s.

It forced Biden to defend his civil rights record on Friday, pledging to be a “president who stands against racism” and “the forces of intolerance” and defiantly dismissed any suggestions otherwise.

This on the same day he lost support from major San Francisco-based donor Tom McInerney. The attorney and angel investor was responsible for helping the Obama campaign raise significant sums of money and said, “I would imagine I’m not alone.”

Read More: Picking the winners and losers from the great Dem debates easy to spot

In contrast, Harris’ presidential campaign announced Saturday that it raised $2 million in 24 hours following Thursday's 2020 Democratic debate.

Polling by Morning Consult and FiveThirtyEight before and after the two debates on Wednesday and Thursday suggests that support for Biden dropped by about 10 points among likely Democratic voters, when asked who they would choose if the election were held tomorrow.

Biden is in serious trouble and we haven’t even begun scratching his foreign policy record, although moderator Rachel Maddow pressed him on his early support for the Iraq War, allowing Bernie Sanders to pounce.

“One of the differences that Joe and I have in our record is Joe voted for that war and I helped lead the opposition to that war, which was a total disaster," said Sanders.

Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary for the Obama administration said in his memoir that Biden has "been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

Biden told Delaware Democrats earlier this year that he gets “criticized by the New Left,” and it’s this arm of the party which steadfastly opposes him and appear to be driving the party’s direction.

The fromnt page of the New York Post Friday, following Thursday's debate.

The fromnt page of the New York Post Friday, following Thursday's debate.

When asked which candidates healthcare plan would extend to illegal immigrants, Biden almost reluctantly raised his hand last - as if he was feeling the progressive heat shining down upon him.

That question had President Trump licking his lips because when it comes to the general election, no candidate running on that platform will defeat the incumbent.

All Democrats just raised their hands for giving millions of illegal aliens unlimited healthcare. How about taking care of American Citizens first!? That’s the end of that race!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2019

Biden also defended the NRA, this in front of a party which yearns for comprehensive gun law reform.  

“Our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA,” he said.

He went on to call for smart guns to include biometric readers but said gun manufacturers were an obstacle in achieving that goal.

Joe Biden could use some help from former US President Barack Obama. Image: Getty

Joe Biden could use some help from former US President Barack Obama. Image: Getty

Save for an olive branch endorsement from Barack Obama - which seems increasingly unlikely - Biden’s chances of becoming the next president of the United States are over, or as he said last Thursday:

My time is up.”

Do you think Joe Biden still has a chance of defeating President Donald Trump?
Let us know in the comments below.

Joe Biden’s road to the White House was knocked permanently off course last Thursday night after the former US vice president put in an underwhelming performance at the 2020 Democratic debate.Getty Images