Key takeaways from the first presidential debate
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met for the first time on the debate stage. There was no clear winner but certainly a clear loser… moderator and Fox News host Chris Wallace.
From the beginning, Trump and Biden went after each other, launching direct attacks, speaking over one another and ignoring pleas from Wallace to stay on topic. Despite his best attempts, Wallace lost control of the candidates from the beginning. The debate was likely not what most Americans were hoping for but certainly stuck to the divisive theme of 2020.
The debate audience was minimal with just over 100 people in the auditorium. The majority were wearing masks and all had undergone COVID-19 testing prior to attendance. Here are some of the key takeaways from the debate:
Supreme Court Vacancy
The debate began by addressing the recent Supreme Court vacancy and whether it was appropriate to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to the election. Trump, who nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Saturday, said it’s absolutely appropriate.
“We won the election, elections have consequences,” Trump said. “By the way, the Democrats wouldn’t think about not doing it…there’s no way they’d give it up.”
Biden said that with the election already under way the appointment should wait.
“It’s just not appropriate to do this before the election,” Biden said
The candidates also disagreed on how to appropriately handle the coronavirus pandemic. Biden accused Trump of panicking and not responding quickly enough. He said the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans lay at the president’s feet.
“He waited and waited and waited, he still doesn’t have a plan,” Biden said. “You [Trump] should get out of the bunker and out of the sand trap….and fund what needs to be done to save lives.”
Trump fired back that he acted far quicker than Biden would have. He highlighted how quickly he stopped travel from China to the United States. He blasted Biden and Democrats for supporting massive shutdowns that harmed the economy and the mental and physical health of many Americans.
“He will destroy this country,” Trump said. “This guy will close down the whole country and destroy our country.”
Trump cited alcoholism, domestic abuse and mental health problems as unintended consequences of nation-wide shutdowns. He criticized Democrat governors for wanting to keep their states closed until the election is over.
“It’s all politics with these guys,” Trump said.
Law and Order
Trump and Biden were asked to weigh in on ongoing riots across the country and how they would respond in the future. The president said his administration has been able to get riot-hit cities under control in a short time when he’s been asked for help by local governments.
“We believe in law and order, you don’t,” Trump said to Biden. “Democratic-run cities are run by the radical left and they’ve got you wrapped around their finger, Joe.”
Biden fired back correcting Trump. He said he is opposed to defunding police departments but does believe they need some reform.
“Most law enforcement are good people but there are bad apples and they need sorting out,” said Biden.
Trump then went after Biden accusing the former vice president of having no support from law enforcement officials. He mentioned the numerous endorsements he’s personally received from police unions, some endorsing for the first time ever in presidential politics.
Biden did not respond when asked to name any police endorsements.
The entire debate was filled with attacks lobbed from side to side but there were certainly some powerful attacks that stood out.
“Under this president we’ve become weaker, sicker, poor, more divided and more violent,” Biden said. “He’s Putin’s puppy, he still refuses to even say anything to Putin about the bounty of the heads of American soldiers.”
Biden also repeatedly said that Trump doesn’t know how to listen or be quiet when Wallace would ask Trump to let him finish talking. At one point he event referred to the president as “this clown.”
“Donald would you just be quiet for a minute,” Biden asked when Trump talked over him.
In another memorable moment, Biden said that Trump needed to be smarter in regards to COVID-19. That drew a huge response from the president.
“Don’t ever use the word smart with me because you know what, there’s nothing smart about you Joe,” Trump fired back. “I did more in 47 months as President than Joe Biden did in 47 years.”
The candidates have agreed to two more debates prior to the election. The next debate will take place on October 15. Prior to that, on October 7, Vice President Mike Pence will debate Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.
PHOTO: JIM WATSON,SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
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