The Presidential Debate: Just More 2020 Chaos


President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden debated for the first time on live TV Sept. 29, but it quickly devolved into squabbling (photo courtesy AP News

Mallory Putnam, Staff Writer

The first presidential debate of the 2020 election, between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, took place on Tuesday, Sept. 29, in the evening. The debate immediately descended into chaos, leaving Americans weary and unpleased with the end result of the two candidates essentially getting nowhere in regards to policy or helping still undecided voters. Instead it featured bitter exchanges and name calling and the moderator having very little control over the 90-minute affair; there is much to unpack here.

Moderator Chris Wallace, Fox News Anchor, struggled to maintain control as he peppered the candidates with questions about the Supreme Court, the economy, the coronavirus pandemic and more. He repeatedly warned the president for speaking over Biden.

“Will you shut up, man?” a flustered Biden said in a comment that was symbolic of the harsh nature of the debate. “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown.”

A large topic of the debate was of course, the Coronavirus. Biden sought to portray the president’s handling of the coronavirus emergency as a deadly failure. The president countered with the steps he has taken, including restricting some travel and speeding along a vaccine. Yet, he explained how he wanted to keep the country open.

“People want their places open,” Trump explained. “They want to get back to their lives.”

In the next segment Wallace brought up the claims made against President Trump that he only paid $750 in federal taxes for 2016, the same amount for 2017—and zero for years before that. In light of this Wallace raised the question of  how much money in federal taxes he pays, to which the president replied, “millions of dollars” without detail.

“Release your tax return,” Biden, who had released his return showing he has paid nearly $300,000 in federal taxes the previous day, demanded.

One of the moments getting the most attention was when Wallace asked President Trump if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups. The president responded, “Sure, I’m willing to do that. But I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.”

After more cross talk, Biden pressed once again, this time asking specifically about the “Proud Boys.” They are a far right organization, often characterized by white supremacists. 

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left,” President Trump said.

Finally, toward the end of the debate, election security came up as a topic of debate. President Trump continued to attack mail-in ballots as ripe for fraud as he has done at previous times. Biden spoke to the camera addressing the viewers, as he had done multiple times that night, encouraging them to vote because they determine the outcome of this election.

While usually over the following days, there is a clear winner in a debate, instead there was broad agreement from political observers on one thing: whoever won, America lost. 

The two candidates are scheduled to meet next on October 15, for the second debate held in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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