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I was at the Trump-Biden presidential debate and it became very clear what had gone wrong

Behind the scenes at the first debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, the buzzy atmosphere of the spin room descended into horror-struck silence within a first few minutes of the president opening his mouth. While Trump told bombastic lies in front of us, Biden struggled to recall what were obviously canned responses.

At one point, a former prominent TV commentator got up from their seat and start pacing back and forth, worriedly. Biden aides and surrogates, who had been in constant communication with each of us throughout the day, fell silent, one by one.

When the cameras stopped rolling and the debate was over, a whole team of Trump surrogates flooded onto the spin room floor. That included multiple Republicans – Ben Carson and Lindsey Graham among them – who have been vying for the ex-president’s favor as he seeks a new veep pick.

All of those Republican operators and Maga staff members were eager to tell us reporters how Biden’s performance had telegraphed weakness on the world stage. They confidently declared that Trump had won.

By contrast, the Biden surrogates were nowhere to be found.

While some of the assembled press were interested in what the Republicans had to say, the vast majority were looking for Biden’s backers to defend his performance.

Finally, they came out as a group, grim-faced, to face a wave of reporters, producers and videographers at the far end of the spin room. Their sudden appearance led to a comically packed scrum, with your correspondent being crushed between an NBC reporter, a Biden spokesperson and the sitting governor of California, Gavin Newsom – who everyone had already started whispering about replacing the president.

I held up a recorder to capture their words as they recited

Read more on independent.co.uk