President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden faced the first of multiple presidential debates, often boycotting each other while sharing different visions for the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, a vacant seat on the Supreme Court and concerns about racial justice and violence in the United States. Cities.
The two candidates had hoped the 90-minute debate would revitalize their base, as well as a possible victory over reluctant voters in the 2020 race.
Moderator Chris Wallace, Presenter of Fox News Sunday, kicked off the debate with a question about the vacancy on the Supreme Court following the death of late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. On Saturday, Trump nominated Judge Amy Connie Barrett, a federal judge of appeals and someone who has proven herself as a reliable conservative in numerous legal cases.
Ginsburg’s death sparked a battle over whether her seat should be taken too soon in the November 3 election. Republicans in the Senate prepare for hearings in two weeks’ time, and a full House vote is now expected before Election Day.
Trump said of Barrett: “I think it’s going to be cool.” “I think it would be as good as anyone who served on that court. I really feel it.”
Biden argued that the Supreme Court nomination should be decided by the winner of the election.
“The American people have the right to have a say in who the Supreme Court nominee is. This saying happens when they vote for a United States Senator and when they vote for the president of the United States,” Biden said. “They won’t get that opportunity now, because we’re already in the middle of the election.”
Trump denounced Democrats’ calls to postpone a candidate. He said, “We won the election, so we have the right to choose it, and very few people know otherwise.” “And by the way, the Democrats, they wouldn’t even think about not doing that.”
Biden tied the Supreme Court nomination to the Affordable Care Act – saying Barrett would pose a threat to health care.
“She looks like a very nice person. But she wrote before she sat on the bench, which is her right, that she believes the Affordable Care Act is not constitutional,” Biden added.
When the conversation led to a discussion about healthcare, Wallace pressured Trump about his plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
“I got rid of the unilateral mandate,” Trump said in a heated conversation with Wallace.
Trump also criticized Biden for refusing to disclose whether he opposes mounting calls from some lawmakers and progressive activists to add members to the Supreme Court in retaliation if Barrett is confirmed.
Trump responded to Biden during the discussion, saying that “if he had listened to (Biden), millions of people would have died.”
“We got the gowns, the masks, the ventilator,” Trump said. “Now we are weeks away from the vaccine.”
Candidates have also clashed over reopening the economy amid the ongoing pandemic. Biden has called for increased testing before the reopening and said he supports more funding to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
Trump said: “He wants to close this country and I want to keep it open.”
On the economy, which has been the focus of Trump’s re-election efforts, the president said his administration “built the greatest economy in history.”
Trump added, “When the China epidemic came, we shut it down.”
Biden researched the nation’s current record unemployment rate, saying that Trump would be “the first president in US history to get fewer jobs when he leaves office than when he came.”
“You can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis,” Biden said.
In a strategic move, the former vice president released his 2019 tax returns just hours before discussion, explaining that he and his wife, Jill, paid nearly $ 300,000 in federal taxes in 2019, including nearly $ 288,000 in personal income tax.
Biden, who has been a narrow lead in the polls in some conflict states, is looking to win more suburban voters, women and the elderly. The Biden campaign is seen as an opportunity to criticize Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States and left millions unemployed.
While recent polls have found an advantage for Trump when it comes to the economy, more Americans have said they disagree with his leadership through the crisis.
Biden said, “That’s what it is, because you are who you are.” The president has no plan. Did not put anything. He knew since February how serious this crisis is. “
The release came just days after the New York Times announced that Trump paid $ 750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he was elected president, and again in 2017, his first year in office. The report said Trump had not paid federal income taxes for 10 of the 15 years before that.
Wallace asked Trump directly about the report, and he replied, “I’ve paid millions of dollars in taxes.”
I paid $ 38 million a year. Trump said: I paid $ 27 million a year.
Trump broke a decades-long precedent by not disclosing his return as a presidential candidate in 2016 or since he was in the White House. Biden had already issued two decades’ worth of tax returns, as well as the federal financial disclosures required of him when he was a member of the Senate and Vice President.
During the Trump tax exchange, Biden repeated calls for the president to release the information publicly. Trump has claimed that he cannot release his proceeds because his taxes are subject to scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service.
Trump replied: “You’ll see that once it’s over.”
Ethnic justice and protest violence
The first presidential debate came as many Americans worry about racial injustice, as well as protest violence that has erupted in some US cities, after numerous black killings by the police.
“It’s about fairness and equality,” Biden said in response to Wallace’s question about race over the next four years.
“It’s about morality. It’s about the constitution.” The former vice president added, “We have never backed away from trying to demand fairness for all and equality for the whole of America.”
On the general issue of race, Trump has focused on law and order in America.
“I have the support of every law enforcement agency in the country,” Trump said. “The people in this country want and demand law and order, and you are afraid to say that.”
Trump added that Biden’s work on a federal crime bill in 1994 treated the African American population “almost as much as anyone in this country.”
When Wallace asked him if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups “and say they need to step aside and not increase violence in a number of major cities,” Trump replied, “All I have seen is from the left, not from the right.”
When Wallace pressed harder, Trump tried to sidestep the question.
“What do you want to call them?” Give me a name. Trump said, “Give me a name,” before Wallace mentioned the violent extremist group known as Proud Boys.
The President replied: “Proud boys, stop, stand aside, but I will tell you what, someone has to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem.”
During the debate, the candidates punched each other’s families. Trump raised earlier allegations about Biden’s son, Hunter, who works abroad, claiming he received $ 3.5 million from Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina, who was married to the late Moscow mayor. A statement from Hunter Biden’s attorney described the allegations as false.
“None of this is true,” Biden said. “His family, we can talk all night.”
During the chaotic 90-minute discussion, the candidates repeatedly spoke on top of each other. Once, Biden called the president a “clown” and told him to “keep barking.”
Biden said, “You are the worst president America has ever known.”
In an effort to stop Trump and Biden from interrupting the other, Wallace said, “Gentlemen, I hate to raise my voice, but why am I different from you two?”
Trump blamed Biden – but Wallace disagreed, “Frankly, you’ve been doing more boycotts.”
On the issue of climate change, Trump said in the next four years that he wanted “crystal-clean water and air,” and said the United States now had “the lowest carbon emissions.”
He said, “If you look at our numbers now, we’re doing an amazing job.”
During his first four years, Trump specifically withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to bolster a global response to the threat. Biden said he would re-join the pact if elected.
When asked whether he believes human pollution is contributing to the warming of the planet, Trump said, “I think a lot of things do. But I think to some extent, yes.”
In terms of fires, he added, you need forest management, in relation to wildfires raging in California and other western states.
Biden said it would be possible to create “thousands and thousands of jobs” during the clean energy transition.
“We are spending billions of dollars now on floods, hurricanes and rising sea levels,” Biden said. “We are in real trouble.”
Mail-in voting is expected to flow for the November elections due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as early voting has already begun in some states. Biden and Trump clashed over the integrity of ballot papers via mail during the debate.
Trump repeated his fraud allegations in the months leading up to Election Day. Senior election officials disputed the allegations, saying there is no evidence that mail voting leads to widespread voter fraud.
With regard to the ballot papers. Trump said: It’s a disaster. “This would be fraud like you’ve never seen it before.”
Biden responded, saying, “There is no evidence whatsoever that mail ballots are a source of manipulation and fraud,” calling on Americans to “come and vote.”
Biden added, “The outcome of this election will be determined.” “If you are able to vote early in your state, vote early. If you can vote in person, then vote in person. Vote whatever method is best for you.”
Wallace ended the debate by asking each candidate whether they would pledge not to declare victory until the elections were independently certified.
“I urge my supporters to go to the polls and watch very carefully,” Trump said, noting that “if the elections are fair, he will be” 100% on board. “
Trump added, “But if I see tampering with tens of thousands of ballot papers, I cannot agree to that.”
Biden responded with “yes” and rebuked Trump’s fraud allegations.
Held at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday was the first of three presidential discussions to be held over the next month. The other two are scheduled for October 15 and October 22.
Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will participate in the Vice President’s debate on October 7.