Presidential debate: Trump and Biden commerce insults in chaotic debate

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Media signature“Shut up, man” and other insults and interruptions

President Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden have argued violently in one of the most chaotic and bitter White House debates in years.

Mr Trump often interrupted him, telling Mr Biden to tell him to “shut up” while the two battled over the pandemic, health care and economy.

The US president was challenged for supporting the white supremacists and refused to condemn a certain far-right group.

According to opinion polls, Mr Biden has a steady single-digit lead over Mr Trump.

But with 35 days to go until election day, polls from several key states show closer competition.

According to surveys, one in ten Americans has not yet decided how to vote. However, analysts said Tuesday night’s debate – the first of three – probably wouldn’t make much of a difference.

What were the key moments?

Overall, the 90-minute debate in Cleveland, Ohio was marked by serious political discussion. Both candidates talked about each other, but Mr Trump cut 73 times off according to a CBS News count.

The tenor became clear early on when the two candidates argued over health care. Hectoring from Mr. Trump saw Mr. Biden calling the President a “clown”.

As they moved on to the Supreme Court, the rancor continued and Mr Biden refused to answer when asked if he would try to increase the number of judges.

“Are you going to shut up man?” The Democratic candidate snapped at Mr. Trump and later added, “Keep yapping man.”

Mr. Trump, the Republican candidate for a second term, replied, “People understand Joe. Forty-seven years [in politics]You did not do anything. You understand.”

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Media signatureBiden: Do you believe what he’s telling you for a moment?

In one of the night’s most discussed exchanges, the president was asked by host, Fox News host Chris Wallace, if he was ready to condemn white supremacists.

He initially said he would, but when asked to denounce the far-right Proud Boys group by name, he stepped out of the way.

Mr Trump said, “Proud guys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, someone has to do something against Antifa and the left.”

The Proud Boys, an all-male group against immigrants, used social media to celebrate. “Stand and stand, sir,” said the telegram.

Antifa, short for “anti-fascist”, is a loose association of far-left activists who often clash with the far-right in street protests.

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Media signature“Proud guys, stand back and stand by” – Trump

Previously, Mr Biden said, “This is a president who has used anything but a dog whistle to create racial hatred and division.”

In other moments:

  • Mr Trump was asked if he would encourage his supporters to be peaceful if the election results were unclear. “I encourage my supporters to take the polls and watch very closely,” he replied
  • When Mr Trump said that Mr Biden would, at the behest of the left, be the Democratic Party on health and environmental issues, Mr Biden replied, “I am now the Democratic Party.”
  • Defending his efforts to quickly occupy a US Supreme Court seat to cement a Conservative majority of 6-3 in the bench, Mr Trump said, “We won the election and we have the right to do so. “
  • The president addressed the past drug use of Mr Biden’s son Hunter, who was discharged from the Navy in 2014 for using cocaine. Mr Biden called to Mr Trump and said, “My son, like many people, how many people you know at home, had a drug problem. He made it past. He fixed it.”

What did you say about coronavirus?

Mr Biden said Mr Trump panicked over the coronavirus pandemic that killed more than 200,000 Americans.

“A lot of people died and a lot more will die unless he gets a lot smarter and faster,” said Biden.

Mr. Trump rejected Mr. Biden on the word “wise”.

“You have either the lowest or almost the lowest degree in your class,” said the president. “Never use the word wisely with me. Never use that word.”

Local regulations required everyone in the room to wear masks, but of the President’s family members present, only U.S. First Lady Melania Trump wore face-covering during the debate.

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Members of the Trump family were shown wearing masks on arrival but removed them for debate

Due to the pandemic, the forum at Case Western Reserve University had a small, socially distant audience and the traditional opening handshake was skipped.

Who won the debate?

In a debate that has been the political equivalent of a food fight, the winner is the man who showed up the least covered in slop.

On Tuesday night that man was Joe Biden – if only because his main goal was to prove to Americans that he could be under pressure, that he hadn’t lost a step because of his increasing age. He had to show that metaphorically he could put a cake in his face and stay cool.

He met that standard for the most part, although this was at least partly due to the fact that Donald Trump’s constant hectoring and interruptions seldom gave the former Vice President the opportunity to say anything really harmful to his own cause.

Twitter Trump – the bohemian, bombastic, insulting, and rumored aspect of this president – was fully visible for the hour and a half. Unfortunately for the president, many Americans, even his own supporters, find his social media personality to be one of his most unattractive qualities.

Trump needed this debate to stir up a race against him. Biden’s lead has remained stable due to the turbulence on the streets and in the economy as well as the Covid crisis.

Nothing about those hour and a half free for everyone seems to change the dynamics of this competition or change the mind of any one in ten American voters who say they are still undecided (though they may never make up their minds to watch) you another one).

Anything that resembled a substantive exchange was buried in a cavalry of bloviation and strife – and because of this, it was a missed opportunity for the president.

  • Read more from Anthony here

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What’s the reaction?

As is normal after a presidential debate, both the Trump and Biden camps won victory for their candidate.

“President Trump has just delivered the greatest debating performance in president history showing the facts and control of the conversation,” Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who served on the President’s “Debate Preparation Team”, criticized Joe Biden’s performance but also suggested that the President was overly aggressive or “too hot”.

“In all this heat you lose the light,” he said. “That may be fixed. Maybe, maybe not.”

Mr Biden’s colleague, Vice-Presidential Candidate Senator Kamala Harris, tweeted, “We are at a battle for the soul of our nation, and the choice in that election has been made crystal clear in today’s debate.”

She added, “America had a choice: a leader who provided a clear path forward against an angry, disruptive bully.”

Joe Biden was named the winner in a poll by CBS News, the US partner of BBC News. 48% supported him, compared with 41% for Trump.

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Debate host and Fox News host Chris Wallace tried hard to keep order

But many commentators and newspapers have said the real loser is the American people.

On the front page of the late edition, the New York Times said “Trump’s heckling” had “thrown the debate into utter chaos”.

CNN gave a similarly faded assessment, summarizing the event as an “absolutely terrible debate”. “In a word, it was awful,” wrote Chris Cillizza, editor-in-chief of CNN.

The Wall Street Journal described the debate as a “controversial” and “depressing spectacle” that was “marked by interruptions and insults.”

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