Elections Politics

First 2020 Presidential Debate Recap

Last night, President Trump and former vice president, Joe Biden faced off in the first presidential debate of 2020, live from Cleveland. Moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace The debate was chaotic from start to finish, filled with insults, interruption, and rambling, as Wallace struggled to maintain order. 

If you didn’t have a chance to watch last night’s presidential debate or you’re confused about what happened, here are a few of the biggest takeaways:

Trump’s supreme court nomination

In the first topic of the night, Trump argued that he had the right to fill the vacant Supreme Court because the Republican party had control of the White House and Senate, while Biden argued that they should wait after the election and give Americans the chance to decide.

Trump: Trump: “I will tell you very simply. We won the election. Elections have consequences. We have the Senate. We have the White House… We won the election, and therefore, we have the right to choose her.”

Biden: “We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is because that’s the only way the American people get to express their view is by who they elect as president and who they elect as vice president.”

Trump’s Taxes

President Trump was asked about a recent report in the New York Times, which reported that the President only paid $750 in income taxes in 2017. Trump denied it, claiming he paid “millions of dollars in taxes.” Biden demanded Trump release his returns, to which Trump replied that he would.. “once they are ready.”

President Trump and Biden got into a heated exchange after Biden accused Trump of taking advantage of the U.S. tax codes and Trump demanded to know why Biden hadn’t done anything about it in the past.

Biden angrily stated that Trump was “the worst president America has ever had,” to which Trump replied: “I’ve done more in 47 months then you’ve done in 47 years.”

Coronavirus

The former vice president accused Trump of irresponsibly handling COVID-19 and reopening the economy. Trump defended his handling of the virus, retorting that Biden wouldn’t haven’t been able to handle it. “But I tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job we’ve done. You don’t have it in your blood.”

Trump made fun of Biden’s decision to wear masks to every public appearance and defended his decision to hold campaign rallies against the CDC’s recommendations.

Trump also used the opportunity to insult Biden’s intelligence: “You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don’t ever use the word smart with me. Don’t ever use that word.”

Race in America

In a particularly poignant moment, Wallace asked President Trump if he would condemn White supremacists in America:

“But are you 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?” 

Trump refused to answer the question, instead choosing to attack the left and Antifa.

“Who would you like me to condemn? Who? Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said, “But I’ll tell you what, somebody has got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem.”

Trump also declared that the reason that he canceled racial sensitivity training in the federal government was that they were racist.

“I ended it because a lot of people were complaining that they were asked to do things that were absolutely insane, that it was a radical revolution that was taking place in our military, in our schools all over the place,” he said. “We have to go back to the core values of this country. They were teaching people that our country is a horrible place, it’s a racist place, and they were teaching people to hate our country, and I’m not going to allow that.” 

Biden accused Trump of “generating racist hatred, racist division.” Biden also denounced the violence happening during certain protests and said he supports providing more support to police officers.

“I’m totally opposed to defunding the police officers, they need more assistance.”

Climate Change

When asked if he believed that human greenhouse gas emissions contribute to the warming of the planet, President Trump responded: “I think a lot of things do but I think, to an extent, yes.” President Trump also did not respond to the moderator with a plan to achieve an ideal environment – he also did not respond to the fires that a damaging the West Coast.

Biden does not support the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward J. Markey. He does support creating green energy jobs and rejoining the Paris climate agreement.

Voting in November

When both candidates were asked about not accepting victory until the results were officially verified, Biden responded that he would, but Trump would not give a direct response. Trump also urged his supporters “to go into the polls and watch very carefully because that’s what has to happen” and “they cheat” without clarifying whom he was referring to. He also “can’t get along” with and election with mail in voting, especially if many of those ballots are received after Election Day. “This is going to be fraud like you’ve never seen,” he said.

Editor-In-Chief, Jamesia Downer, contributed to this story.

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