This has been a year of new records and surprises. To which we can now add the first presidential debate, as the most chaotic debate in history. The first of three Presidential debates took place Tuesday evening, featuring Republican nominee and current president, Donald Trump, and Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden. Chris Wallace, a news anchor for Fox News Sunday, was the debate moderator.
Before Tuesday, pre-debate tensions were already high for the opponents. Here is some context for what occurred before the debate.
Trump called for Biden to take a drug test due to his belief that Biden was using performance-enhancing drugs. He claimed this was the only way to explain Biden’s sudden improvement in his debate performance. Trump also demanded Biden be checked for an earpiece during the debate.
Biden’s spokeswoman, Kate Bedingfield, delivered a humourous reply to Trump’s drug test call.
“[Biden] intends to deliver his debate in words,” Bedingfield said. “If the president thinks his case is best made in urine, he can have at it.”
In addition, Bedingfield also replied to Trump’s demand for earpiece equipment checks.
“If we’re playing that game, the Trump team asked that Chris Wallace never mention the number of COVID deaths once during the debate. You can consider that confirmed from the Biden campaign. See how easy that was to try and throw out a distraction. It is pathetic. It’s weak,” Bedingfield said.
Also on minds before the debate is the recent New York Times article about Trump’s taxes. They claim that Trump paid no taxes for 10 of the past 15 years and only paid $750 in 2016 and 2017. However, Trump has still yet to release his tax returns claiming he is under audit. Although there is no law preventing him from doing so.
Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, both released their tax returns. Biden even tweeted that the American people deserve transparency.
The American people deserve transparency from their leaders, it’s why as of today, I’ve released 22 years of my tax returns. https://t.co/6fwL20fWeI
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 29, 2020
In addition, Chris Wallace stated that he will not be fact-checking the debate live. Therefore it is up to individual media to fact-check the debate. The Biden campaign created a new twitter page, Truth, for the sole purpose of fact-checking Trump during the debate.
The Debate began with President Trump, as he won the coin toss earlier this week. In addition, the traditional introductory handshake was omitted due to COVID-19 restraints. The debate is 90 minutes long and consists of six question segments. Trump and Biden’s records, The Supreme Court, COVID-19, The Economy, Race and Violence in Cities and the Integrity of the Election. Each segment will be about 15 minutes, giving both Biden and Trump two minutes to reply. Wallace will facilitate the debate for the remaining time.
The debate was an hour and a half of interruptions, personal attacks and chaos like no debate before. Both Trump and Biden seemed to stick to themes throughout the debate. Biden often times talked directly to the American people while Trump only seemed to talk at Biden and even Wallace.
They both also reverted to similar rebuttals in all six segments to retaliate to the statements of the other. Trump’s being Biden’s lack of efficiency and achievement of Bidens 47 years in office. Biden mainly referred to all topics back to Trump’s inability to handle the pandemic resulting in the death of over 200,000 Americans.
Here are the highlights of each segment.
The Supreme Court
The first question of the debate focused on the process of appointing a new judge to the Supreme Court. President Trump claimed that because he won the election that he has the right to appoint Barrett to the Supreme Court. “I’m not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years,” Trump said.
Biden argues the opposite that the responsibility of appointing a new justice belongs to the people and the people want who wins the Senate and Presidential votes in November to decide. Biden also claimed that the danger in appointing a new justice now is because Obamacare is up for debate in the Court shortly after the election. A topic Trump has repeatedly claimed he will eliminate.
The debate then goes on a tangent to healthcare reform. Trump claiming that the main advancement in his healthcare plan deals with lowering prices of pharmaceuticals and eliminating Obamacare’s individual mandate. Biden claims that he will expand Obamacare.
Wallace then directs the topic back to the possibility of packing the courts in 2021 and ending the filibuster. Joe Biden refused to answer whether or not he supports packing the court. Instead, he encourages Americans to vote.
Wallace asked the candidates why they should be trusted to deal with public healthcare in their presidency. Biden began the segment pointing out the statistics of COVID and claimed that President Trump did little to help stop the spread and stated that Trump does not have a plan.
“You should get out of your bunker and get out of the sandtrap and … go in the Oval Office and bring together the Democrats and Republicans and fund what needs to be done now to save lives,” Biden said.
Trump rebutted saying that Biden would have left the countrywide open and more Americans would have died. Trump even claiming that Democrats called him a xenophobic and a racist for closing the country. In addition, Trump claims that many people, including Dr. Fauci, stated that he did an amazing job with COVID and saved thousands of lives with his actions.
Trump also told Biden he couldn’t have done what he did.
“You could never have done the job that we did,” Trump said. “You don’t have it in your blood.”
The topic of a vaccine was also discussed. Biden claimed that Trump doesn’t believe his own scientists. Trump also stated that the companies claim we could have a vaccine faster than Summer 2021, which is when the CDC claims it will available for the public. Trump also claimed that the whole notion of developing a vaccine is political. Political in the sense that for companies working on developing the vaccine, it is a competition rather than a life-saving endeavor.
On the topic of masks, Trump claimed that he did not have a problem with masks and states that he wears one when he needs to. Biden claimed that masks save lives and hundreds of lives could be saved between now and January if everyone wore masks.
Trump began the economy segment talking about how his administration rebuilt the economy until it was destroyed by the “China plague.” He claims businesses are reopening and are setting a record high for rebuilding and restoring businesses to the workforce. Trump also repeatedly stated that most states and cities with bad economic standpoints are Democratically run.
Biden claimed that billionaires and millionaires like Trump are doing well. But smaller working-class citizens might not be. he also claimed that Trump will be the only president to leave office having fewer jobs than when he began his term. Biden also pointing out that the economy cannot be fixed until the COVID crisis is solved. Which he claims Trump has no intention of doing.
Wallace also opened a conversation about Trump’s tax statement. Trump stated that he did not pay $750 but rather paid millions. All the while Biden continued telling Trump to release his tax returns. To which Trump replied he would once the audit is finished.
Trump also claimed that the Obama administration ruined the economy and he was left to fix it. Biden replied that they left Trump a booming economy, which he ruined.
Trump also repeatedly throughout the debate, tried to circle the conversation back to Hunter Biden. Claiming he was given 3.5 million dollars by the Mayor of Moscow’s wife. Biden repeatedly discredited the claims stating they were not true.
Race and Violence in Cities
Biden begins by discussing how Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville three years prior was what led him to enter the presidential race. Trump claiming that there were fine people on both sides of the riot.
“This man is the savior of African Americans? This man cares at all? This man’s done virtually nothing,” Biden said. “The fact is you have to look at what he talks about. You have to look at what he did and what he did has been disastrous for the African American community.”
Trump responds by stating Biden helped write a crime bill in 1994 where he called African Americans “super predators.” He also claimed that he is doing better with African Americans than any Republican president has done in a long time.
The debate then moved to a discussion about law enforcement and law and order. Trump claimed he believes in law and order and Biden doesn’t. Biden stated that the majority of police officers are good and there are a few bad apples that need to be held accountable. While he doesn’t support defunding the police, he claims that this must be done through reform. Applying more resources to officers to best handle the situations that find themselves in. He also claimed that violence is never appropriate.
Wallace also asked Trump why he ended racial sensitivity training.
“I ended it because it’s racist. I ended it because a lot of people were complaining and were asked to do things that were absolutely insane. That it was a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools,” Trump said. ” Really they were teaching people to hate our country and I’m not gonna do that, I’m not gonna allow that to happen.”
Perhaps the biggest shock of the segment was when Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was willing to condemn White Supremacist and militia groups. While claiming he would, he never made the statement except for quickly saying, “Stand back and stand by.”
Trump and Biden Records
Wallace began this segment asking both candidates why the American people should vote for them. Trump began by stating that there has never been another president that has done more than him in three and a half years. He also mentions his successes with the military and Veterans Affairs.
Biden begins by discussing how he has succeeded where Trump has failed.
“Under this president, we have become weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided and more violent,” Biden said.
He then goes on to mention how he entered as Vice President into a recession and left with a booming economy. He also claims that this country cannot stay divided. Biden also defended his son, Hunter, and stated how proud he is of them for overcoming obstacles.
Wallace then directed the debate to climate change. Trump stated that he wants clean water and air. He also stated that many of the wildfires could be solved with forest management. All the while, Trump avoided questions about the science behind climate change.
Biden also discussed his future plan which includes, 2 trillion dollars in green jobs, limited fracking, limiting carbon emissions, and zero net emissions fo greenhouse gasses by 2050. Biden expresses his intentions to rejoin the Paris Accords, which Trump pulled out of. He also clarifies that he does not support the Green New Deal, but rather the Biden plan.
The Integrity of the Election
Finally, the candidates discussed the integrity of the election. Specifically the possible problems and corruption of mail-in ballots. Biden begins by stating that Trump’s FBI director and Homeland Security director claims there is no evidence to support mail-in ballots as the source of election corruption. He also mentions that Trump often voted by mail. Mostly, Biden encourages citizens to vote and states he will accept the results of the election either way.
Trump claims that the mail-in ballots are a disaster. He states that a solicited ballot is okay but unsolicited ballots open the doors for fraud. Trump also claims that people have received multiple ballots, found ballots in creeks and in a wastebasket. He also expressed concern that America will not know the results for possibly weeks to months after the election.
Biden points out that five states have participated in mail-in ballots for the past decade. Wallace clarified that the biggest problem with mail-in ballots is many ballots have to be thrown out due to mistakes made by the voter. Also, those eight states have are not allowing election workers to open ballots until election day.
For the final question, Wallace asked the candidates if they would urge their supporters to remain calm while waiting for the results of the election.
“I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” Trump says,” I hope its gonna be a fair election… but if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”
Biden replied that he would urge his supporters to remain calm and declared he would not celebrate until the final results are released.
The debate was a long period of argumentative interruptions and name-calling. Yet, according to CNN and CBS polls, Biden was the clear winner. However, 83% of viewers agreed that the debate was negative. CNN’s Jake Tapper had this to say about the election.
“[The debate was] a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.”
Edited by Madalyn Torres and
Featured Photo Courtesy of Mario Tama/ Getty Images