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The Face-Off

What went down in the first Presidential debate.



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Photo credit: https://globalnews.ca/news/7363850/us-election-debate-prep/

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The first of the four US Presidential Debates was held on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 9:00–10:30 PM EDT between current President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden at Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University & Cleveland Clinic and moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News. The event was sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

The main topics that were to be covered through the course of the debate: -
Economy
Covid
Supreme Court
Race
Violence

The debate began with light being shed on serious policy discussions but having said that, Mr.Trump was very proactive with countering arguments. Unfortunately, that resulted in Mr.Biden having been interrupted a few times. As the two candidates started to present their stances on healthcare, it was evident that one would have felt the heat of the conversation. Mr.Biden calling the President a “clown” is one of the most talked-about exchanges of the night. The president was asked by the moderator if he was prepared to condemn white supremacists, to which he initially said he would but when asked to denounce the far-right Proud Boys group by name, he sidestepped. When the discussions dawned upon the topic of the global pandemic we are experiencing and how the country is working to safeguard its citizens, Mr Biden stated Mr.Trump had "panicked" over the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 200,000 Americans.

Local rules required everyone in the room to wear masks but of the president's family members present, only US First Lady Melania Trump donned a face covering during the debate. Mr.Trump for his counter added “Joe, you’ve had 308,000 military people dying because you couldn’t provide proper healthcare in the military. So, don’t tell me about this.” Moving forward, when the topic of racism was discussed some of the most pointed out exchanges involved race and law and order. Mr.Biden accused Mr.Trump of intentionally trying to show racial discord. “He’s just a racist,” Mr.Biden said. “This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racial hatred, racial division.” Mr.Biden added “We’re going to work this out. So we changed the way in which we have more transparency when these things happen. These cops aren’t happy to see what happened to George Floyd. These cops aren’t happy to see what happened to Breonna Taylor.”

Mr.Trump tried to get under former VP Joe Biden’s skin by alleging his son, Hunter had received $3.5m from a Russian billionaire. Hunter Biden has denied having a stake in the company that received the payment. When Mr Biden invoked the name of his late son Beau, a military veteran who died from cancer, Mr.Trump returned the conversation to Hunter. Mr.Biden rebuked the president for reportedly calling US soldiers who died in wars “losers”, saying he resented the slur. “My son was in Iraq, he was not a loser. He was a patriot. And the people left behind were heroes.”

The president came into the debate facing intense scrutiny over a New York Times report showing that he paid only $750 in federal tax in the year he won the election and the same amount in his first year in office. Mr Wallace pressed Mr.Trump on whether it was true. But the president ignored the specific question, claiming that he had paid “millions” in taxes, prompting Mr Biden to say, “Show us your tax returns.”

In the final question of the night, both candidates were asked whether they would urge their supporters to stay calm while the vote was counted and to pledge not to declare victory until the election results have been certified.

“I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” Mr Trump replied. He said if it was a fair election, “I am 100% on board” but that he would not go along with a “fraudulent election. ” Mr Biden responded to the same question, “Yes.” He said he would support the outcome whether he wins or not. The tone of the debate was fairly more argumentative than productive in terms of answering the asked questions. Although, in the following debates it is expected that more areas of concern and questions regarding other policies and actions will be addressed.


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