The world watched the first, in the series of three US Presidential Debates this year, between Republican nominee Donald J Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, on Tuesday night between 9 PM and 10.30 PM ET (Wednesday, 6:30 AM to 8 AM IST).
Hosted by the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, and sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the debate was moderated by Chris Wallace, a news anchor for Fox News.
The format of the debate included six, fifteen-minute segments, with two-minute answers from each candidate, after which the questions were open to discussion for the rest of each segment. Various topics were debated upon, including the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, issue of rights, climate change and finally the election itself.
The first segment aimed at discussing Judge Amy Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with Trump regarding her as a “top academic, good in every way, as good as anybody that has served in that court”.
The topic then drifted towards Trump’s healthcare plan and withdrawal of the Affordable Care Act. According to Biden, this step would “strip 20 million people of having health insurance”. Instead, he (Biden) wanted to expand Obamacare – a plan to provide affordable healthcare to citizens – and assist those who qualify for ‘Medicaid’. Trump said that this would lead to a government takeover of the healthcare sector. According to him, Obamacare was “expensive” and “premiums (were) too high.” Biden concluded the segment by stating that Trump did not have a concrete plan and it was all “wishful thinking”.
Discussing the pandemic, Biden felt that Trump did not take effective measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as he would have, by ensuring the availability of protective equipment and financial aid. Trump defended himself by stating that he had taken measures, getting the equipment, masks, ventilators and closing the country’s borders to curb the spread. Focusing on post-pandemic plans, Trump wanted to open the borders and work towards economic revival, while Biden felt it might prove risky.
Regarding the country’s economy, Trump believed in a V-shaped economic recovery, with 10.4 million people back to work after recording an 8.4% unemployment rate the previous month. On the other hand, Biden believed in a K-shaped recovery as several small businesses were still suffering and he wanted to invest more in people and corporations that require financial assistance. But Trump countered this saying that it would hurt the economy and result in another recession.
Amidst constant interruptions, the next segment discussed was the issue of rights among the country’s citizens. Trump criticized Biden for referring to the African American community as “super-predators”. According to him, 100-200% of crime and violence occurred in Democratic strongholds, like Chicago and New York. Biden defended himself by saying that Trump too “raised racist division” among the population and that people engaging in violence should be held accountable to ensure equal justice, equity, equality, and decency.
Towards the end, the two candidates discussed their views on climate change. “I don’t think the science knows”, Trump had said in light of forest fires. He believes “good forest management” is necessary to have “crystal clean water and air”. Similarly, Biden proposed ending the use of fossil fuels by 2035, zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 and weatherised buildings to increase energy efficiency. While Trump believes this will take a toll on the economy, Biden is confident that this “green infrastructure” will create “good-paying jobs” in the future.
Finally, discussing the November 3rd elections, Trump said the citizens would choose him as there has “never been an administration that has done more than (him) in three and a half years”. On the other hand, “Vote, vote, vote” was Biden’s message, as “there is nothing we cannot do if we do it together”.
The world awaits the next debate between Vice-President nominees Kamala Harris and Mike Pence on Wednesday, 7th October, between 9 PM and 10.30 PM ET (8th October, 6:30 AM - 8:00 AM IST) at the University of Utah, to be moderated by Susan Page.
Until then, in God we trust!