Donald Trump and Joe Biden shouted over each other and insulted each other as moderator Chris Wallace lost control of the ‘dumpster fire’ that was the first Presidential debate on Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio.
Barely had the night begun when the two candidates began name calling and fighting, with Biden asking Trump to shut up and slapping him down as the president repeatedly interrupted his answers.
‘Would you shut up, man?,’ a visibly exasperated Biden said about 20 minutes into the debate after Trump interrupted him again as he tried to talk about the Supreme Court.
And, about 15 minutes later during a discussion on the COVID pandemic, he told Trump again: ‘Would you just shush for a minute?’
The president tried to command the stage from out of the box, interrupting his rival repeatedly to make his point, counter Biden and push himself into the conversation.
It happened so many times that Fox News’ moderator Chris Wallace stepped in, asking the president to let Biden finish his answer and chided him: ‘I’m the moderator of this debate and I would like you to let me ask my question and then you can answer.’
‘Go ahead then,’ Trump said, later adding to Wallace: ‘I guess I’m debating you, not him. No surprise.’
The 90-minute showdown between the presidential contenders proved early on that it would a be a knock-out, drag-down match, as they squared off over the Supreme Court, handling of the coronavirus pandemic, mail-in ballots, Trump’s taxes, Hunter Biden’s business dealings and the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘You’ll get to see it.’ Trump shrugs off controversy over his taxes, saying he paid ‘millions’ as Biden says President ‘pays less tax than a schoolteacher’
‘I paid $38 million one year, I paid $27 million one year. I went –’ the president said, but was interrupted by Biden.
‘Show us your tax returns,’ the former vice president insisted.
‘You’ll see it as soon as it’s finished. You’ll see it,’ Trump said.
‘Oh,’ Biden sarcastically conceded. Biden said Trump ‘takes advantage of the tax code’ and ‘pays less tax than a schoolteacher.’
Trump shrugged off the attack, saying that all business leaders do the same ‘unless they are stupid.’
Just hours before taking the stage in the battleground rust belt state Tuesday, Biden and his vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris released their tax returns.
‘Stand back and standby.’ Trump’s response when asked to condemn white supremacists and militia groups
Trump skirted a question from Wallace about whether he was willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups.
‘I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not the right wing,’ Trump responded. ‘I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.’
When pressed further, Trump said: ‘What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name?’
Finally, he said: ‘Proud Boys — Stand back, stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem….. This is a left wing problem.’
Antifa followers have appeared at anti-racism protests, but there’s been little evidence behind Republican claims that Antifa members are to blame for the violence at such protests.
Trump infamously said there were good people ‘on both sides’ after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that led to the death of a counter-protester.
Biden calls Trump a ‘racist’ when the two men debated race relations
Trump was defending his decision to end racial sensitivity training for federal workers when his Democratic rival hit him with the ‘racist’ label.
The president said the training was resulting in ‘very sick ideas’ and teaching people ‘to hate our country.’
‘If you look at the people, we were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and frankly, very sick ideas. It really, they were teaching people to hate our country. And I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to allow that to happen. We have to go back to the core values of this country,’ Trump said.
‘Nobody is doing that. He’s racist,’ Biden said.
He defended the training programs.
‘The fact is there is racial insensitivity. People have to be made aware of what other people feel like. What insults them, what is it demeaning to them. It’s important to people. Now, many people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, but it makes a big difference,’ he said.
And then he pivoted it to emphasize his blue-collar roots and hinted Trump is a snob.
Biden said: ‘It makes a gigantic difference in the way a child is able to grow up and have a sense of self-esteem. It’s a little bit like how this guy and his friends look down on so many people and look down their nose on people like Irish Catholics like me who grew up in Scranton.
‘They looked down on people who don’t have money, they looked down on people who are of a different faith.’
Race relations, like other debate topics, resulted in a furious back-and-forth, shouting over each other’s conversation between the presidential contenders.
As the two men bickered on race, Biden invoked the death of George Floyd, the African American man killed by a white police officer in Minnesota and the Black Lives Matter protests that sprung up in the wake. Trump invoked his ‘law and order’ presidency.
The president has accused Biden on multiple occasions of wanting to defund the police, which Biden has said he would not do.
During the debate, the Democratic nominee said most police officers are ‘good’ but the bad ones need to be rooted out.
‘The vast majority of police officers are good, they risk their lives every day to take care of us, but there are some bad apples and when they occur, when they find them they have to be sorted out,’ Biden said.
‘Cops aren’t happy to see what happened to George Floyd. These cops aren’t happy to see what happened to Breonna Taylor. Most don’t like it, but we have to have a system where people are held accountable. And by the way, violence and response is never appropriate. Never appropriate. Peaceful protest is. Violence is never appropriate,’ he said of protests.
Trump hit back: ‘What is peaceful protest? When they run through the middle of the town and burn down stores and kill people all over the place? That is not peaceful protest.’
The president also has complained Biden hasn’t said he’s for ‘law and order,’ a phrase Trump has used to define his presidency.
‘They don’t want to talk about law and order. Are you in favor of law and order?,’ he asked Biden.
‘I’m in favor of law,’ Biden said.
But he attacked Trump’s approach of handling racial unrest across America.
‘The point is that is why he keeps trying to rile everything up. He doesn’t want to calm things down. Instead of going in and talking to people and saying let’s get everybody together, figure out how to deal with this, what does he do? He just throws gasoline on the fire constantly. Every single solitary time,’ he said.
‘It is what it is’ Biden blasts Trump over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic
Trump and Biden fought over the coronavirus crisis by accusing each other of killing more people had the other been in office.
‘He panicked or he just looked at the stock market, one of the two, because guess what, a lot of people died and a lot more are going to die unless he gets a lot smarter, a lot quicker,’ Biden said onstage.
At another point Trump shouted it would have been Biden who’d have killed more – calling his response to swine flu pandemic in 2009 a ‘disaster.’
Biden, who was serving as vice president at the time, hit back that 14,000 died not 200,000. ‘We didn’t shut down the economy. This is his economy that he shut down,’ Biden added.
‘If we would’ve listened to you, the country would’ve been left wide open, millions of people would’ve died. Not 200,000. And one person is too much. It’s China’s fault. It should’ve never happened,’ the president said.
Biden shot back that the president ‘waited and waited’ to act when the virus reached America’s shores and ‘still doesn’t have a plan.’
Biden told Trump to ‘get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap’ and go in his golf cart to the Oval Office to come up with a bipartisan plan to save people.
‘You’re the worst president America has ever had,’ Biden said.
Trump snarled a response, declaring that ‘I’ll tell you Joe, you could never have done the job that we did. You don’t have it in your blood.’
‘I know how to do the job,’ was the solemn response from Biden, who served eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president.
Biden whacked Trump for coddling China in the early weeks of the pandemic, saying that the president didn’t push hard enough to letter American health experts in.
‘He did not even ask Xi to do that. He told us what a great job Xi was doing, he told us we owe him a debt of gratitude for being so transparent with us,’ Biden said.
The ex-veep mocked Trump for saying the coronavirus would disappear ‘like a miracle.’
‘And maybe you can inject some bleach in your arm and that would take care of it,’ Biden also offered.
‘That was said sarcastically,’ Trump shot back.
While discussing the importance of masks to protect against the virus, Trump defended himself for not wearing one all the time, before poking fun at Biden for wearing ‘the biggest mask he’s ever seen’.
Biden also pointed out Trump retorted ‘it is what it is’, as more than 200,000 Americans have died from the deadly virus.
Biden’s son Hunter and late son Beau are brought into the debate
More than an hour into the angry clash, Biden said Trump ‘never keeps his word,’ and brought up comments that sources told the Atlantic Trump made about fallen troops – referring to them as ‘suckers’ and ‘losers.’ Trump again denied it.
Biden made an impassioned pitch for his late son Beau’s military service. He spent a year in Iraq serving in the National Guard.
‘Speaking of my son, the way you talk about the military — the way you talk about them being losers and being, and just being suckers — my son was in Iraq and he spent a year there,’ Biden said.
‘He got the Bronze Star. He got the Conspicuous Service Medal. He was not a loser. He was a patriot. And the people left behind there were heroes,’ said Biden.
‘You talking about Hunter?’ Trump asked, rhetorically after Biden mentioned his son.
Biden answered he was speaking of Beau.
‘I don’t know Beau. I know Hunter,’ Trump interrupted, then amped up his attacks.
‘He was thrown out, dishonorably discharged for cocaine use. And he didn’t have a job until you became vice president,’ Trump said.
‘That’s not true. None of that is true,’ Biden responded.
‘He made a fortune in Ukraine, in China, in Moscow, in various other places,’ Trump said.
Hunter Biden received an administrative discharge from the Navy in after failing a drug test for cocaine in 2013. He was seeking to be commissioned as a reserve officer. He did not receive a dishonorable discharge, but an administrative one, according to press accounts at the time.
Biden responded: ‘My son, like a lot of people we know at home, he had a drug problem.’
‘He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it,’ Biden said. ‘And I’m proud of him.’
Earlier in the night, Trump hook yet another shot at Hunter, saying: ‘And no wonder your son goes in and he takes out billions of dollars to manage. He makes millions of dollars.’ It was a reference to business Hunter Biden did with his firm Rosemont Seneca Partners, LLC.
Trump brought up a Senate Republican report that claimed Hunter got $3.5 million from the wealthy wife of the former Mayor of Moscow. Hunter Biden’s lawyer has denied the characterization.
‘What did he do to deserve it?’ Trump asked.
‘My son did nothing wrong in Burisa,’ said Biden – after Trump expanded his attack to Hunter Biden’s lucrative seat on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm.
It resulted in still more angry cross talk.
‘He doesn’t want to let me answer because he knows I have the truth,’ Biden said.
‘It’s hard to get any word in with this clown – excuse me, this person,’ Biden said after delivering the insult.
‘His family we could talk about all night,’ Biden said, but it was difficult to see how he followed through as Trump talked over him.
Then, Biden faced the camera and delivered one of several lines he appeared to have prepared to deliver. ‘This is not about my family or his family. It’s about your family,’ he told viewers.
‘He doesn’t want to talk about what you need … The American people. That’s what we’re talking about here.’
Battle over Supreme Court nominee
Trump defended his effort to swiftly fill a U.S. Supreme Court seat, saying ‘elections have consequences’ and he had the right despite Democratic objections.
‘I will tell you very simply we won the election, elections have consequences. We have the Senate and we have the White House and we have a phenomenal nominee respected by all,’ Trump said in defense of his nominee, conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
‘… I think that she (Barrett) will be outstanding. She will be as good as anybody who has ever served on that court. We won the election and therefore we had the right to choose her.’
Biden, talking over frequent interruptions from Trump, said the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be filled after the Nov. 3 election, when it was clear who the president would be.
‘We should wait, we should wait and see what the outcome of this election is,’ Biden said, adding a more conservative Supreme Court would endanger the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.
Trump won’t say if he’ll accept election results, claiming mail-in ballots will lead to ‘fraud like you’ve never seen’
President Trump refused to say during Tuesday night’s presidential debate if he would accept the election results.
‘This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen,’ he said of the November vote, citing mail-in ballots.
Trump has repeatedly claimed mail-in ballots will lead to a ‘rigged’ election despite numerous studies showing that is the case.
‘If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that,’ Trump said as many states have begun mailing out their general election ballots.
Joe Biden said the results of the election would be accepted by both sides.
‘He has no idea what he’s talking about,’ Biden said. ‘Here’s the deal. The fact is I will accept it. And he will too. You know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted, that will be the end of it. That will be the end of it. And if it’s me, fine. If it’s not me, I will support the outcome.’
He defended mail-in voting.
‘It’s not been established at all that there is a fraud related to mail-in ballots – that somehow it’s a fraudulent process,’ he said.
‘He’s trying to scare people into thinking it’s not going to be legitimate,’ he said of Trump.
The president said his supporters would be watching for possible voter fraud.
‘I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,’ he said.
Petty spats over who is smarter
The two men bickered about their intelligence. Trump has called himself a ‘very stable genius’ and bragged about how well he’s done on a cognitive test, challenging Biden to take one.
And when Biden said he need to get ‘a lot smarter’ or more people would die from COVID, Trump was quick to pounce.
‘Did you use the word ‘Smart?’ He said he went to Delaware State,’ he snapped of Biden. Trump went to the University of Pennsylvania. ‘He graduated the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don’t ever use the word ‘Smart’ with me.’
Biden hit back.
‘Oh, give me a break,’ he said.
Trump replied: ‘There’s nothing smart about you. 47 years, you’ve done nothing.’
When Trump was pressed to reveal his health plan, he spoke about a Supreme Court ruling that struck down Obamacare’s mandate that people buy insurance: ‘Excuse me – I got rid of the individual mandate,’ Trump said.
Wallace told him it was not a plan. ‘That is absolutely a big thing,’ Trump responded.
When Trump and Biden kept going at it, Wallace implored: ‘Mr. President I’m the moderator of this debate and I would like you to let me ask my question.’
Biden was determined not to be caught with only a knife in a gunfight.
‘You picked the wrong guy at the wrong night at the wrong time,’ he told Trump.
Trump accused him of risking left wing wrath by distancing himself from Sanders.
‘You just lost the left,’ Trump told him.
The angry attacks carried over into the coronavirus.
‘And by the way maybe inject some bleach into your arm, that’ll take care of it,’ Biden said, mocking Trump’s comments about injecting disinfectant to cure the virus.
The 90-minute debate was divided into six segments, selected by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who moderated. They included: the pandemic, the economy, the Supreme Court, election integrity, the candidates’ records, and ‘race and violence in our cities.’
The candidates did not shake hands when they take the stage at 9 pm ET on Tuesday night because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead they stood at podiums that are socially distanced from one another while Wallace sits at a desk in front of them.
There was no opening statements and the first question went to Trump.
It is the first of three scheduled presidential debates. Vice President Mike Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, will debate in October.
Trump suggested in a tweet on Sunday that Biden will be on performance-enhancing drugs during the debate, which could be a prediction of how he’ll try and rattle Biden during their face off.
Biden and his aides had rehearsed for any possible attacks from the commander-in-chief and the Democratic nominee has said he hopes he won’t get thrown off by any Trump allegations.
The president has insisted repeatedly – and without proof – that Biden took performance enhancement drugs ahead of the Democratic debates. He’s challenged him to take a drug test ahead of their debate here while offering to take one himself.
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‘Joe Biden just announced that he will not agree to a Drug Test. Gee, I wonder why?,’ Trump tweeted Monday morning.
And the president said during a press conference at the White House on Sunday that he wasn’t joking.
‘No, I’m not joking. I mean, I’m willing to take a drug test. I think he should too,’ he said.
On Sunday, when asked by reporters if he would take a drug test, Biden replied: ‘No, I have no comment.
And his campaign put out a statement saying if Trump ‘thinks his best case is made in urine, he can have it.’