A chaotic debate unfolded Tuesday night as President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden battled their viewpoints on key topics for the presidential election at Case Western Reserve University.
Chosen moderator Chris Wallace, Fox News Sunday anchor, began the debate with a review of the two-minute grace period given to each candidate for each topic followed by an open debate.
Wallace introduced the first topic of the night, a hotly contested nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court justice. Given the first two minutes to respond, Trump began by crediting her academic achievements and high esteem among colleagues. He also said that his administration had the right to nominate the next justice, despite pushback from democratic voters.
Biden responded with his belief that Americans deserve the right to vote and wait for the elected nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He then discussed how he felt that Barrett’s views are reversive to the Affordable Care Act and could possibly take away insurance from those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as women who are pregnant or those with cancer.
This ushered in a tense and frequently interrupted discussion on healthcare, with both candidates coming up with personal attacks on the other’s political history. At times, Wallace was not able to complete his questions and even asked Trump to restrict himself and follow the rules he agreed to.
“Well I guess I’m debating you, not [Biden], but that’s not a surprise,” Trump said as a joke.
Following the topic of healthcare, Wallace introduced the next topic of coronavirus. Wallace asked the nominees questions in relation to trusting science, why the voters should trust each candidate and each candidate’s plan to combat the virus.
Biden led the segment by claiming that Trump does not have a cohesive plan to address the pandemic that has already cost 200,000 American lives. He also challenged Trump in his plans to provide money to struggling small businesses or provide them with protective gear.
In rebuttal, Trump credited himself and his administration in doing a “fine job” and said that Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told him he did a “phenomenal job.” He promised a vaccine by the end of the year through various companies such as Johnson & Johnson.
As Biden appeared to become increasingly irritated by Trump’s interruptions, he called him the “worst president we’ve ever had” and made a plea to the public to vote, which became a trend throughout the debate.
Wallace then introduced the topic of reopening the economy, making the debate a battle for small businesses and billion dollar companies.
“You can’t open the economy until you fix the COVID crisis,” Biden said.
Wallace asked each candidate their reasons for holding different types of rallies, in reference to Trump holding events with thousands of attendees in close quarters.
“If you could get the crowds, you would be doing the same thing,” Trump said to Biden.
This led Wallace to introduce the topic of Trump’s taxes, referencing the New York Times report that found he had paid $750 in federal income taxes in the first year of his presidency.
When explicitly asked if this was true, Trump said “I paid $38 million one year. I paid $27 million one year.”
Wallace then brought up the topic of race in America, with questions ranging from why voters should trust each candidate to addressing cases such as the one involving the charges faced by the officer who shot Breonna Taylor.
Biden began his response with a call to justice and discussed that those who are violent should be held accountable for their actions, as well as the inclusion of trained psychologists and medics into the police force who he felt would handle cases properly.
Trump brought up the Crime Control Act of 1990 in an attempt to discredit Biden during and said he has brought the law and order to protests throughout the United States.
This prompted Wallace to ask Trump if he would be willing to condemn white supremacists, to which he replied with a command to “stand back and stand by” directed at the Proud Boys, a far-right neo-fascist male-only organization. Trump also claimed the protests were related to ANTIFA, an anit-facsit and left-wing political movement.
Moving to the topic of climate change, Wallace questioned both nominees’ beliefs. As the first to answer, Trump said he wanted fresher air and clear water, reluctantly admitting to the contributing factor of gas emissions contributing to the climate crisis. However, he related the forest fires to poor management and California’s need to fix the issues relating to forest wildfires before implementing electric cars.
Biden retorted with his support of using renewable energy to both help create jobs and better the economy by reducing taxes as incentives for buildings to weatherize, which he said would make buildings safer without having to spend money to rebuild cities after natural disasters.
The last topic of the evening related to the voting process. Wallace asked each candidate how they would reassure voters that the next president of the United States will be the legitimate winner of the election. Biden led with encouraging the public to have a plan on how they will vote and said that cheating will not affect the upcoming election.
Trump referred to the previous election and alleged he was mistreated by the previous administration, claiming he faced a lack of respect during the change of power when he took office. He then went on to claim that the mail-in-ballot was a fiasco in the election and asked constituents to vote in person instead.
Trump closed bywith his expressinged his hopes that the Supreme Court will be the ones to settle disputes on the outcome of the election.