On September 29, the first presidential debate broadcasted live from Cleveland, Ohio. An audience attended in person, wearing masks and following social distancing procedures.
Chris Wallace, a news anchor for Fox News Sunday moderated the debate. In each section of the debate, Wallace asked a question, and each candidate he addressed had two minutes to respond, after which the question would be open for discussion.
In the first section, candidates discussed the Supreme Court and the recent controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s nomination for Supreme Court Justice.
“We won the election, we have the right to do it,” said Trump.
Former Vice President Joe Biden rebuffed, saying the election has already started, to which Trump responded, “I’m not elected for three years, I’m elected for four years.”
Soon after, the debate transitioned to both candidates interjecting with insults to the others’ character. Multiple times throughout the night, Biden called Trump a “clown,” and Trump responded by insulting Biden’s intelligence.
The next section went over the current COVID-19 pandemic in which Wallace asked the candidates to “try to be serious about.”
Biden stated that the Trump administration handled the pandemic badly, and Trump responded, blaming China and saying he handled it better than Biden would have.
In the next section, Wallace asked about the United State’s economy and economic policies. When asked about re-opening the economy versus keeping it closed to fight off the pandemic, Trump advocated for opening the economy.
“People know what to do,” Trump said. “They can social distance, they can wear masks, they can do whatever they want. You gotta open these states up.”
During Biden’s two minutes, he said that millionaires and billionaires like Trump are doing fine in the crisis, but the average American citizen might not be.
“You can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis,” Biden said.
At this point in the debate, Wallace reminded Trump not to interrupt his opponent.
“You’ve agreed to the two minutes, so please let him have it,” said Wallace.
The debate continued with both candidates speaking over one another.
“(President Trump) is the worst president America has ever had,” Biden said.
Trump asked Biden a question about his son receiving $3.5 million from the mayor of Moscow’s wife. Biden said, “none of that is true.”
This created an argument between the two, with Trump and Biden both interrupting each other. Wallace stepped in and attempted to regain control over the debate room.
“Gentlemen, I hate to raise my voice, but why should I be any different than the two of you?” Wallace said.
The next topic covered was the racial tension in the country.
Biden stated that he didn’t support defunding police officers, but instead, he wanted to bring together a large group of people to solve the problems together.
“There are some bad apples and they have to be sorted out,” Biden said.
He also said that violence is never the answer. Peaceful protests are OK, but never violence.
Trump then accused Biden of calling Black Americans “superpredators,” and said Biden treated Black Americans very badly while he was in office. Trump brought up the First Step Act as an example of him treating Black Americans better than Biden.
Speaking about race brought up the topic of white supremacy, in which Wallace asked Trump to condemn white supremacist groups.
“Almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing,” Trump said. “Proud boys, stand back and stand by, but someone has to do something about Antifa and the left.”
This prompted another shouting match between the candidates and Wallace. Next, he asked President Trump and Biden to explain why voters should choose them over their opponent.
Trump said that he has done a lot of good for the country, the military and veterans in his term. Biden said that under Trump, the country has become weaker, sicker, poorer and more divided.
When talking about mail-in ballots, Biden defended the process saying there was evidence that mail-in ballots are completely safe. Trump said there were many problems with unsolicited ballots, including fraud and general counting mistakes.
Biden looked directly into the camera and urged citizens to vote.
“You have it in your control to determine what this country’s going to look like these next four years,” Biden said. “Is it going to change or are we going to get four more years of his lies?”
The next debate will be the vice-presidential debate on Oct. 7, broadcast from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.