Recap: Biden and Trump’s debate

written by: Erin albright, staff writer
Photo courtesy of Flickr
The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced that it plans to update debate rules after the contentious first presidential debate of 2020. It’s been hypothesized that they plan to empower moderators.

The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was held Sept. 29 in Cleveland. 

With Election Day just over a month away, the two front-runners in the 2020 presidential race met Tuesday evening to discuss hot issues that will affect voters. The issues discussed included COVID-19, the economy and the Supreme Court. Chris Wallace, Fox News anchor, hosted the debate. 

Not only were the debaters interrupting each other, but Trump frequently interceded while Wallace posed questions. Wallace’s inability to control the candidates during this discussion led to a small disagreement between himself and Trump, who went on to say, “I guess I’m debating you, not him, but that’s fine.” 

Wallace, who had become tired of being interrupted, responded with, “I’m the moderator of this debate, and I’d like you to let me ask this question.”

The first topic was the newly-vacant seat on the Supreme Court. After Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent death, Democrats and Republicans have clashed over who should appoint her successor.

President Trump has nominated Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 

“We won the election, therefore we have the right to choose her … The people already had their say,” Trump said. 

Biden expressed his feelings on the subject, claiming it to be undemocratic for a nomination to be approved while citizens are already sending in their mail-in votes for the election. 

“It’s just not appropriate to do this before the election,” Biden said.  

Barrett is best known for her academic writings on Catholicism and the law, as well as her stance against abortion and the Affordable Care Act, which was passed under the Obama Administration. Trump frequently commented during his 2016 campaign on a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Biden has announced that he plans on keeping the Affordable Care Act if elected. 

After discussing the Supreme Court and healthcare, Wallace introduced the topic of COVID-19. 

“You could’ve never done the job we did … You would’ve lost far more people,” Trump said in relation to how Biden would have handled the pandemic. 

Biden claimed that Americans should avoid trusting the president’s claims that a vaccine will be distributed soon. In addition to claiming Trump has been giving Americans false hope of a vaccine, Biden also attributed the thousands of COVID-19 deaths to Trump taking too long to take action. 

“He still hasn’t even acknowledged he knew this was happening and how dangerous it could be… He panicked, or he just looked at the stock market … and a lot of people died,” Biden said. 

Wallace then asked the candidates about the economy. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the economy has recovered quickly in the second quarter and the unemployment rate has fallen, despite the growth rate remaining slow. 

In his argument, Trump stated that states must be open up to let the economy grow and fully recover. Biden stated that Trump’s request for the economy to be opened up was hypocritical of the president, whose taxes were recently made public. 

“You can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis,” Biden said. On multiple occasions Biden commented, “He doesn’t have a plan,” while speaking about Trump’s efforts to repeal Obamacare, end the COVID-19 pandemic and assist the economy in recovery. 

A final takeaway for the evening was the discussion on violence at protests. Wallace asked Trump if he would publicly condemn White supremacists and militia groups and ask them not to add to the violence. 

In response, Trump claimed that the “radical left” was organizing the violence. To the all-male White supremacist organization, the Proud Boys, Trump said, “Stand back and stand by.”

The bipartisan organization Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday that future debates will have “additional structure” and “tools to maintain order” after many spectators considered the debate to be chaotic.