The most anticipated debate in modern presidential election history (and that could be an understatement) lacked true back and forth discussion over policy differences.
Instead, what we got was a series of interruption, name-calling, and a moderator trying to contain this blatant disrespect for all Americans.
This is not a partisan take, VoiceBig is built on complete neutrality and our content supports that, but President Trump turned the evening affair into utter chaos. The President was unhinged, constantly interrupted Former Vice President Biden, and even bickered with the moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News at every turn.
The President insisted on avoiding the questions, talking about policy, or debate on topics that matter to Americans. Debates are supposed to be two opposing candidates making their case to the American public and the President insisted on turning it into a backyard argument. Many insiders within the President’s debate team insisted the goals were to unite, highlight accomplishments, and articulate the next four years. The President accomplished neither while allowing his opponent Biden to easily accomplish his goals. From a substance standpoint, it’s difficult to assess how well Biden did to outline his vision, mostly in part to the constant interruptions from the President, but Biden came with the goal to long strong, articulate, and avoid gaffes that play into the “mental decline” attack the Trump campaign has utilized. The former Vice President accomplished those goals.
The few times Biden outlet his frustration was merited and almost seemed to echo what Americans were also thinking. When he called the President a “clown”, it’s hard to argue most didn’t think similarly. When he said “Just shut up man”, it’s difficult to think an undecided voter truly didn’t want the President to let Biden answer. That’s the point of debates, to allow undecided Americans to hear both stories and see the contrast.
The contrast could have not been larger.
Over and over, Wallace tried to regain control of the debate. When Trump complained that only he was being chastised for talking over questions and Biden’s answers, Wallace shot back: “Frankly, you have been doing more interrupting.”
On a night with so much chaos we will try to give you the major takeaways.
Trump does not condemn White supremacists
Chris Wallace asked President Trump: Are you willing to condemn white supremacists? After the former Vice President repeatedly said “Are you? Do it right now”
The President responded “Stand back and stand by,” he said to the white supremacist militia group Proud Boys.
The former Vice President poignantly responded “This is a President who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division,”
The President counted by claiming that America’s suburbs would be “gone” if Biden is elected. The Vice President sharply responded “He wouldn’t know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn,” adding that “this is not 1950” and Trump’s dog whistles “don’t work anymore.”
Lost with how shocking the President’s refusal to condemn white supremacy was his answer to a peaceful transition of power. “I’m encouraging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” Trump said when asked what he would tell his followers in a post-November 3 world.
This is a big statement and incredibly reminiscent of practices utilized in Latin American countries that use intimidation to lower voter turnout. The President continued to say unfounded statements about voter fraud concluding “If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”
In arguably his best moment of the night, Vice President Biden said “Vote. There will be a peaceful transition”.
The President is ready to stop talking about COVID-19. The President was successful in pivoting out of COVID-19 discussion. Instead of focusing on the 7 million cases and 200 thousand deaths, the President managed to make it about the economy.
The Vice President made many attempts to interject COVID-19 throughout the debate but was met with the same talking points by the President.
The President repeatedly said “greatest economic recovery”, “Biden will close America”, and “the vaccine is coming” even saying the CDC director was wrong and the vaccine would be available before Q3 2021.
Supreme Court Judges.
The President stated it was his mandate to nominate and the Senates to vote and that’s exactly what he and the Republican party plan on doing. Former VP Biden made the argument that the American people should decide and called Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a “fine person.”
The Former VP did make a case for the affordable care act, pointing to the potential for a Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority to overturn the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for those with preexisting conditions, and undo Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that legalized abortion nationally.
When Moderator Wallace asked about proposals to end the Senate’s filibuster and expand the Supreme Court. “Why wouldn’t you answer that question?” Trump said.
This segment concluded with the two candidates talking over each other.
‘You’re the worst president America has ever had.’
Biden made it very clear how much respect he has for Trump. After about 18 minutes into the debate, Biden responded to a series of Trump interruptions by saying: “Will you shut up, man?”
The former VP later said “You’re the worst president America has ever had. Come on,” and “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown.”
When it came to race discussion Biden frankly said “He’s the racist.”
With the release of The New York Times bombshell report regarding Trump and his finances, you would have thought Biden would mention it more.
He did not. The most were after Wallace asked Trump to confirm he paid more than “$750” in federal income. Trump shied away from answering it directly.
However, President Trump did bring up Hunter Biden.Trump and his allies have repeatedly made unfounded and false claims to allege that the former vice president and his son acted corruptly in Ukraine. Many worried Biden would lose his cool, family matters a lot to Biden, but the former VP answered directly.
Biden was prepared and looking straight to the camera as he sought to rebut Trump’s claims that his son engaged in wrongdoing when he served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
“This is not about my family or his family, this is about your family — the American people,” Biden said. “He doesn’t want to talk about what you need.”
The President continued pressing the Hunter Biden subject as Biden criticized the President for reportedly calling US war dead “losers.”
He brought up his late son, Beau — saying his son and those left behind “are not losers.” The President decided to bring it back to Hunter Biden and said “I don’t know Beau Biden.”
Finally leading to the former Vice President to say “My son had a drug problem, but he’s overcome it and I’m proud of him.”
The second presidential debate of 2020 will be at 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM on Thursday, October 15.