Insults and Hairspray- Trump v Biden at The First 2020 Presidential Campaign Debate

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The First US Presidential Debate: Trump v Biden – all the defining moments.

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Barking and Bullying- Donald Trump basically hijacked the First Presidential Debate as the president just couldn’t stop himself interrupting, earning a continual scolding from the moderator.

Chris Wallace of Fox News was moderating when President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden met in the first of three scheduled debates. The two ‘combatants’ addressed issues such as the Supreme Court, the COVID-19 outbreak; the economy; race; the candidates’ records; and lastly- the integrity of the election itself.


U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate. image: Jack Holmes- Twitter

Joe Biden hit President Trump in the first presidential debate on Tuesday, referring to Trump as a “liar” and a “clown” during what came across as a chaotic segment on health care. “The fact is everything he’s saying so far is a lie,” Biden told moderator Chris Wallace. “I’m not here to call out his lies. Everyone knows he’s a liar.”  Biden was in the process of answering a question from Wallace on his health care plan. Trump then interjected, prompting Wallace to ask the president to let Biden finish. “He doesn’t know how to do that,” Biden said, to which Trump responded, “You’d be surprised.”

          Biden calls Trump a ‘liar’ and a ‘clown’ at the first debate. image: Twitter

Held at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University, Trump frequently interrupted both Biden and Wallace, going well over his allotted time and ignoring other rules. When asked about whether he would condemn white supremacists, Trump failed to fully do so, telling the Proud Boys group to, “Stand back and standby.” He also continued to cast unwarranted doubt on mail ballots- perhaps a ploy he seeded to the public in case of a bad result?


Mr Trump’s frequent interruptions prompted Mr Biden to tell him to “shut up” as the two fought over the pandemic, healthcare and the economy. “Let me ask my question,” Wallace said at one point, and then finally: “Mr President, I’m the moderator of this debate, I’d like you to let me ask my question and then you can answer. … My question, sir, is what is the Trump health care plan?”

Trump fired back with: “Well, first of all, I guess I’m debating you not him. But that’s OK, I’m not surprised.” At another point in the debate, Wallace tried to rein Trump in after the president refused to allow Biden to respond to a personal dig about Biden’s son’s past work in Ukraine. The former vice president defended Hunter Biden, saying he did nothing wrong by serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Trump hit back, saying, “Did you use the word ‘smart’? So you said you went to Delaware State but you forgot the name of your college. You didn’t go to Delaware State, you graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class, don’t ever use the word smart with me.” Biden replied with, “Give me a break”, to which Trump said, “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe. Forty-seven years you have done nothing.”

Trump frequently interrupted both Biden and moderator Wallace. image: Twitter

Trump and his ‘abysmal tax’ record

Trump resorted to denials about his’ poor’ returns to the IRS: He claimed to have paid “millions” in taxes in 2016 and 2017, refuting a New York Times report that he only paid a ‘miserly’ €640 ($750) in each of those years. He hung on to pre-coronavirus numbers on the economy, inflating- by a large amount- on how the manufacturing industry was doing even before the pandemic started.

The debate itself

The moderator himself expressed frustration at Trump’s constant interruptions and at one time said: “Mr President, let him answer!” Wallace said. “Mr President, please stop.” A frustrated Biden responded, “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown.” He added, “Excuse me, this person.” Trump carried on repeatedly interjecting, saying that the American death toll would have been much higher under a Biden administration. He defended holding massive rallies during the pandemic and downplayed the utility of wearing a mask.

Reactions to the debate vary from anger, frustration to downright outrage at the way Trump handled himself. Many American people, posting on social media, said they were totally embarrassed by Trump’s ‘slagging show’ and thought not enough time was spent on the main issues. Also, Trump’s lack of desire to condemn the Proud Boys group, especially with the recent BLM movement and country-wide protests caused utter disdain and disbelief- even from some of the Presidents won supporters.

A CNN political commentator who often defends Trump said the president did poorly on Tuesday. “I think the president overplayed his hand tonight,” Sen. Rick Santorum said after the debate. “I don’t think it worked for him tonight. I think he came out way too hot.” The other two scheduled debates are on October 15, and October 22. A separate debate between the vice presidential candidates is scheduled to take place on October 7.

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