New York, Sep 30: “Clown”, “Liar”, “just shush for a minute” and “keep yapping” were the insults that will forever be the highlight of the first Trump-Biden US presidential debate 2020 with Fox News anchor and moderator Chris Wallace coming in for serious flak based on how he allowed American President Donald Trump to aggressively interrupt his Democratic challenger Joe Biden throughout the first US presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Trump snarled, grimaced and wagged his fingers at Biden repeatedly throughout the 90-minute debate. At one point, he said: “I’ll tell you Joe, you could never have done the job that we did. You don’t have it in your blood.”
“Everything he says here is a lie”, Biden snapped. The wrong guy, wrong night, wrong time.”
“This man doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Biden said several times during the evening.
The US election is 35 days away and it is increasingly likely that in the current Covid-19 situation, the results may not be known for days or weeks after November 3 — the election date.
“I’m 80 per cent sad, and 20 per cent mad as hell”, is how Claire McCaskill, former Senator from Missouri, described her takeaways from the debate.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson thinks “much of the nation must have been appalled.” “I don’t know what the hell we watched.”
Donald Trump chased the “television audience away” according to veteran Democratic strategist James Carville. “It was unwatchable, 25 minutes in.”
In less than 10 minutes, the debate descended into personal attacks when the moderator failed to keep Trump quiet during Biden’s two-minute talk time. Biden shot back at Trump, “Will you shut up, man?”
Reacting to the first debate performance, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris said, “America was given a very clear choice”. She cast Trump as a man out of his depth and playing defence.
“What we saw was a dog whistle through a bullhorn,” she said on late night television.
“That performance tonight is going to convince people Donald Trump is not worthy of another term” David Plouffe, former Barack Obama campaign manager, said in post-debate comments.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden skewered each other with angry words over Trump’s coronavirus response, racial justice, the economy and each other’s fitness for the president’s office in their chaotic 90 minute meeting.
“The fact is that everything he’s said so far is simply a lie,” Biden said. “I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar.”
Biden tore into Trump within the first five minutes. He told Trump to “get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap” and “get into his golf cart to the Oval Office and come up with a plan to save people”.
When Trump struggled to answer questions about reports he paid a measly $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, Biden waded in. “Show us your taxes. Show us your taxes,” he pushed, even as Trump claimed he has paid “millions in taxes”.
Recent polling shows Trump’s support among key voter groups has slipped since 2016. Biden stepped onto the stage leading in head to head national polls and by razor thin margins in some battlegrounds.
In the crucial battlegrounds of Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, where Trump was leading at this time in 2016, he is now trailing Biden. A RealClearPolitics poll of polls average puts Biden at about 6 points ahead of Trump nationally.
Trump refused to condemn white supremacists and ended the night refusing to say whether he would accept the election results. Trump’s coronavirus response was at the heart of the first presidential debate.
Biden called Trump a “failure” on the Covid-19 response. “You blew it”.
By Nikhila Natarajan