Brutal chaos at debate: Trump, Biden talk over each other for 90 minutes
At the outset of what has been widely dubbed the most important debate in the most important presidential campaign in recent history, moderator Chris Wallace lost control.
After yet another sharp back-and-forth that strayed off topic, including talking over each other, Wallace carved out a moment of silence.
“I’m the moderator of this debate, and I would like to ask my question,” said the “Fox News Sunday” anchor at the first of three debates, this one hosted by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic.
On the topic of health care, Trump brought up his repeated accusation that Biden is beholden to his party’s left wing, which ultimately wants universal health care.
“Your party wants to go socialist, and they are going to dominate you, you know that,” Trump said.
“The party is me, right now,” Biden shot back. “I am the Democratic Party.”
The former vice president said he’s proposed that Obamacare be expanded, insisting the Democratic platform is what he says it is.
“Not according to Harris,” Trump said, referring to the Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
Biden insisted the public option would not end private insurance and would be “only for those people who are so poor they qualify for Medicaid and would automatically be enrolled.”
Trump shot back that Biden agreed with primary opponent Bernie Sanders on socialized medicine
“I beat Bernie Sanders,” Biden retorted.
“Not by much,” Trump replied.
“Here’s the deal,” Biden said, “the fact is that everything he is saying is a lie. Everybody knows he is a liar.”
When Trump interruped once again, Wallace said, “Let him finish, sir.”
“He doesn’t know how to do that,” Biden said.
Trump, referring to Biden’s unwillingness to back universal health care, said, “You just lost the left.”
Biden shot back, “Do you have any idea what this clown is doing?
“He already has cost 10 million people their health care because of recession,” Biden said.
Trump said, “I want to give them health care at a much better price.”
Wallace once again interjected: “Gentlemen, do you realize you are both speaking at the same time?”
Biden inserted, “The fact is this man doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
At another point, he told Trump, “Will you shut up, man.”
Finally, Wallace said facetiously, “That was really a productive segment.”
“Let’s try to be serious” about the debate, he said, for the sake of the American people.
Amid the chaotic exchange, Biden refused to say whether or not he supports packing the Supreme Court and ending the filibuster, as Democratic leaders have threatened.
When Trump tried to reply to a statement by Biden, Wallace interrupted the president.
“You know, sir, if you wanna switch seats, we could do that,” Wallace said.
At various times, Biden called Trump a “liar,” a “clown, a “racist” and “Putin’s puppy.”
When Biden said Trump should become “smart” with the coronavirus, the president said his rival is “not smart.”
“You graduated the lowest in your class,” Trump said.
“Don’t ever use the word smart with me,” the president said. “Nothing smart about you, Joe.”
Trump said he’s done more in 47 months than Biden in his 47 years in Washington.
Biden repeated his promise to repeal the “Trump tax code.”
Trump asked his rival why he didn’t propose a better plan during his decades in Washington.
“Because you weren’t president screwing things up,” Biden said. “You’re the worst president America has ever had.”
On trade and foreign policy, Biden said Trump’s trade deals have put America in a worse position.
“China ate your lunch,” Trump said, turning to the Senate investigation that found Hunter Biden profited in China and Ukraine while his father oversaw foreign policy in those countries.
“And no wonder your son goes in and takes out billions of dollars to manage, makes millions of dollars — while we’re at it, why did the mayor of Moscow’s wife give your son $3.5 million? What did he do with Burisma?” Trump said.
Biden insisted the claims were “totally discredited.”
“My son did nothing wrong with Burisma,” Biden said. “Everyone has discredited it.”
Amid shouting back and forth, Biden said, “It is hard to get any word in with this clown — excuse me — this president.
“Here’s the deal. We want to talk about families and ethics. I don’t want to do that,” Biden said. “His family — we can go on all night.”
Trump said his family “lost a fortune” when it came to work for the government.
“This is not about my family or his family its about your family,” Biden said, speaking directly into a camera. “He doesn’t want to talk about what you need, the American people, it’s about you. That’s who we’re talking about here.”
‘Millions would have died’
On the coronavirus pandemic, Trump pointed out that Biden opposed his decision in January to shut down travel from China, calling it “xenophobic.”
“If we would have listened to you … millions of people would have died,” Trump said.
He cited White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci saying the move save thousands of lives and told Biden “most of your governors said President Trump did a phenomenal job” handling the pandemic.
“Now, we’re weeks away from a vaccine … far fewer people are dying,” Trump said, adding that the “fake news gives me bad press, they give you good press.”
“You never could have done that job,” the president said. “You didn’t do a very good job on swine flu.”
Biden replied, “We didn’t shut down the economy.”
Regarding the current pandemic, Biden contended that “with just a mask” the number of deaths could have been cut in half.
“Do you believe for a moment what he’s telling you in light of all the lies he told you about COVID?” Biden said.
Trump said the Democrats want to keep the country shut down until after the election.
Asked about Trump holding large rallies while Biden holds much smaller events, Biden said his Republican opponent has “been a fool on this.”
Trump retorted: “If you could get the crowds, you would have done the same thing.”
The president said Biden “will shut it down again, he will destroy this economy.”
Wallace asked Trump about the New York Times story over the weekend that he paid only $750 in taxes in 2016.
After a back and forth, with Wallace insisting Trump wasn’t answering the question, Trump said he paid millions of dollars in taxes in 2016 and 2017.
He explained he took advantage of a tax bill passed by the Obama-Biden administration that gave credits for depreciation.
“No president has ever said anything like that,” Biden said.
Trump didn’t mention the fact that he specifically said in his comments about Charlottesville that he was not referring to neo-Nazis and white supremacists when he said there “very fine people” on both sides of the issue. In fact, he condemned the white supremacists. His reference was to the debate over Confederate statues.
The Democrat charged Trump has “used everything as a dog whistle” to his supporters.
Wallace asked Biden if he believed that America had two separate and unequal justice systems.
“Yes, there is systemic unjustice in this country in education and work and law enforcement,” he said.
“We have to have a system where people are held accountable.”
Wallace asked Trump why he issued an executive order to end the teaching of critical race theory among federal employees.
Trump said he ended it because it’s “teaching people to hate our country.”
Biden insisted there is widespread “racial insensitivity” and the training “makes a gigantic difference in the way a child is able to grow up and have a sense of self esteem.”
‘I don’t hold public office now’
Biden said he does not support defunding police but supports “community policing,” which Trump contended means defunding police.
Wallace was asked why he didn’t urge Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler to call in the National Guard and get control of the more than 100 days of rioting in the Pacific Northwest city.
“I don’t hold public office now,” Biden replied. “I am a former vice president.”
Biden said the Democratic mayors “can take care of it, if [Trump] would just stay out of the way.”
In a memorable exchange, the Democratic nominee insisted Antifa is “an idea, not an organization.”
It began with Wallace asking Trump if he would be “willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland.”
“Sure, I’m willing to do that,” the president said. “But I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing not from the right-wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”
“Then do it, sir” Wallace said.
“Do it, say it,” said Biden.
“What do you want to call them? Trump asked. “Give me a name.”
“What supremacists and Proud Boys,” Wallace said.
“Proud Boys stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem,” the president said. “This is a left-wing problem.”
Biden said Trump’s “own FBI director said the threat comes from white supremacists — Antifa is an idea, not an organization, not militias, that’s what his FBI director said.”
Trump replied, “Well, you know what? He’s wrong.”
Said Biden, “Everyone in your administration who tells you the truth has a bad idea.”
Wallace asked each candidate why he should be elected.
“There has never been an administration or president who has done more than I’ve done in a period of three and a half years,” Trump said. “That’s despite the impeachment hoax. And you saw what happened today with Hillary Clinton, where it was a whole big con job.
“But despite going through all these things, where I had to fight both flanks, and behind me and above, there has never been an administration that’s done what I’ve done,” he said.
“Before COVID came in, the greatest economy in history, the lowest unemployment nunbers, everything was good.”
He also mentioned the “rebuilding of the military” and “the fixing of the VA,” the Veterans Administration, “which was a mess under him,” pointing to Biden.
And by the end of his first term, he will have 300 judges appointed, including three Supreme Court justices, if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed.
Biden then was given two minutes.
“Under this president we’ve become weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided and more violent,” Biden said.
The former vice president said that when he entered office the administration “inherited a recession” and he was “asked to fix it.”
“I did, we left him a booming economy, and he caused a recession.”
Biden said he went “head to head” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said “I’m not going to take any of his stuff.”
“He’s Putin’s puppy,” Biden said. “He still refuses to even say anything to Putin about the bounty on the heads of American soldiers.”
Biden said America is poorer because the billionaires have become much more wealthy since COVID.
Directing his words to the American people, he said, “You, on the whole, you got less. You’re in more trouble than you were before.”
See the debate:
Wallace pressed Trump on what he believes about “the science” on climate change “and what he will do to confront it.
“I want crystal clean water and air, I want beautiful, clean air. We have now the lowest carbon. if you look at our numbers now, we are doing phenomenally. But I haven’t destroyed our businesses,” he said.
Trump called the Paris climate accord “a disaster” for the United States.
“As far as the fires are concerned, you need forest management, in addition to everything else.”
On climate change, Biden said, “I don’t support the Green New Deal.”
But his campaign website says Biden “believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.”
It started before the debate
Ahead of the debate, President Trump’s campaign asked to allow a third party to inspect the ears of each debater for electronic devices or transmitters. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the Biden campaign initially accepted the provision then backed out. The Biden campaign denied the claim. And it denied the Trump campaign’s claim that Biden’s handlers requested two breaks during the 90-minute commercial-free program.
Biden trolled Trump just before the debate with a photo of ear buds and a pint of ice cream.
“It’s debate night, so I’ve got my earpiece and performance enhancers ready,” Biden wrote on Twitter.
It’s debate night, so I’ve got my earpiece and performance enhancers ready. pic.twitter.com/EhOiWdjh1b
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 29, 2020
The Biden campaign and the DNC War Room are using a Twitter handle described by some Trump supporters as “Orwellian,” @Truth, to “fact-check” Trump in real time.
The Biden campaign and DNC War Room teams have secured the handle @Truth on Twitter, which they will use to fact-check President Trump in real time during Tuesday’s debate, a campaign aide confirms to CNN.
— Sarah Mucha (@sarahmucha) September 29, 2020
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