Trump and Biden Meet in their First, Chaotic Debate

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Courtesy of Creative Commons

Barry Lewandowski, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio, the Democratic and Republican nominees for president, former Vice President Joe Biden, and current President Donald Trump participated in their first debate. Despite a specific debate format, the night quickly turned into a chaotic 90 minutes.

The format of the debate, moderated by Fox News reporter Chris Wallace, was designed to give each candidate two minutes to respond to a question with time for an open discussion. However, Wallace repeatedly told both candidates to stop interrupting one another, and twice, he asked President Trump why he wasn’t respecting the format.

The debate started by discussing Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Secretary of the U.S. and (SCOTUS) nominee.

“We won the election. Elections have consequences,” Trump said in response to Wallace’s question on why Barett’s nomination should be voted on before the election.
“We have plenty of time,” Trump said. “Even if we did it after the election itself, I have a lot of time.”

Biden said that a Supreme Court pick should be made by whoever wins the election on Nov. 3rd.

During a discussion on health care, Trump falsely stated that Biden would be getting rid of 180 million Americans’ private health insurance plans. From then on, Trump began to constantly interrupt both Wallace and Biden, calling the former VP a “socialist.”

In response, Biden called Trump a “clown” and said, “This man does not have a plan.”

When Biden was asked about the possibility of removing the filibuster or adding justices to the Supreme Court, he declined to answer. Biden then attempted to change the conversation, but Trump refused to let him, continuing to repeat the question while the VP spoke. “Will you just shut up?” Biden responded. Wallace moved on without a straight answer from Biden.

When asked about the coronavirus, Biden said that Pres. Trump has no plan to handle the pandemic and cited a Bob Woodward interview in which Trump acknowledged the seriousness of the virus in February. Trump argued that because of his plan “far fewer” are dying and that a vaccine is weeks away, despite the Center for Disease Control (CDC) director’s insistence otherwise. Moments later, Trump falsely stated that the virus doesn’t impact young people, saying that “people want their places open.”
Biden responded, “people want to be safe.”

Trump later denied the New York Times story indicating he only paid $750 in income tax in 2016 and instead said he paid “millions of dollars,” while still denying to show his tax returns.

When asked to discuss why voters should trust each candidate on the issue of racism in America, Biden insisted there was “systemic inequality in law enforcement,” and indicated that Americans needed to work together to solve the issue.

In response, Trump brought up law enforcement agencies that had endorsed him, calling the racial sensitivity training many of them were asked to undergo “racist.”

When the President was asked to condemn white supremacy in America, Trump said he would, but instead of doing so, he insisted that it was the left that was the problem.

“Sure,” Trump said. “I’m prepared to do that. But I would say almost everything I see if from the left-wing.”

When pressured by Wallace and Biden to directly condemn white supremacists, Trump instead spoke directly to The Proud Boys, a far-right hate group, who have been defined by the FBI as white supremacists.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” The President said. “But I’ll tell you what: Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left.”

When pressed by Trump to say he’s for law and order in the United States, Biden said he was for “Law and order with justice where people get treated fairly.”

Trump said that his rebuilding of the military and his approval from veterans made him a successful president, as well as his economic success.

Biden said the United States was “weaker, sicker, poorer, more violent and more divided,” under the sitting president, before going after Trump’s record on veterans.

“The way you talk about the military,” Biden said, citing a report by The Atlantic magazine. “The way you talk about them being losers and suckers. My son [Beau] was in Iraq. He spent a year there… he was not a loser. He was a patriot. And the people left behind there were heroes.”

The night ended on the topic of election integrity. Candidates were asked about their confidence in this year’s election results with the rise in mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a disaster,” Trump said on mail-in ballots, insinuating the election will be fraudulent because of mail-in voting. “It’s a rigged election.”

“I’m not exaggerating when I say almost literally anything Donald Trump says about mail-in voting is wrong in whole or in part,” said Daniel Dale, a reporter and fact-checker for CNN in a tweet.

“I am urging my supporters,” Trump said, implying distrust in the election’s results. “To go into the polls and watch very carefully.”
Meanwhile, Biden expressed confidence in the election process.

“Show up and vote,” Biden said. “You will determine the outcome of this election.”

Biden agreed that he would urge his supporters to patiently wait for the outcome of the election and not claim victory until the ballots are counted.

“I will accept [the election results] and he will too,” Biden said. “You know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the votes are counted, that’ll be the end of it.”
Vice presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Michael Pence are scheduled to have a debate on Oct. 7. The next presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 15th.