President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off in a chaotic debate Tuesday night, led by moderator Chris Wallace.
The two challenged each other on various hot topics relating to the economy, healthcare, COVID-19, and race. This often resulted in lasting interruptions, and candidates talking over each other.
The first topic brought up by Wallace touched on the Supreme Court vacancy.
Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett raised controversy due to the short time period between the nomination and the election, along with Senate Republicans changing their policy on filling a vacancy during an election year from the Obama administration.
Trump justified his nomination by citing the Republican majority in the Senate as a measure of the public’s trust in his judgment. Biden opposed, saying that voters should have a say in who is appointed and that Trump needs to wait for the outcome of the election.
On healthcare, Trump said that Biden’s plan for a government-run healthcare system would force people to give up their private healthcare. Biden refuted his claim, saying that people would be able to choose to opt-in and could remain on private healthcare if they desired to.
Wallace raised several questions about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to rebuild the economy.
Biden said that Trump does not have a reliable plan with reopening the country in a safe manner, and cited increased cases in states that opened earlier. Biden also spoke about the lack of financial support from the Trump administration to small businesses and people unemployed due to the pandemic.
Trump doubled down on his stance on reopening the country as soon as possible. He said that closing the country led to depression and dependency on drugs and alcohol, which would increase under Biden as he would only seek to close the nation again.
The recent report by The New York Times over Trump’s tax returns alleged that Trump paid only $750 in taxes. This was brought up by Biden.
When asked about his taxes, Trump said he paid “millions of dollars” and will release his tax returns on his own accord when they are ready. Biden used the topic to state that he will eliminate the tax cuts Trump imposed during his administration.
In regards to systemic racism, Biden criticized Trump over his previous remarks about the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and allowing law enforcement’s use of tear gas against protestors for Trump’s photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Biden also said that Trump generated more hatred and division in this country.
Trump said that Biden called Black people “superpredators,” and mentioned the need for “law and order,” claiming that his use of law enforcement in Portland, Chicago, and Seattle ceased rioting. Trump stated that he has the backing of law enforcement and the military.
Wallace then asked if the candidates believed that there is a “separate but unequal” treatment that Black people face in the justice system.
Biden said that there is unfair treatment, and brought up how the “bad apples” in law enforcement need to be held accountable. He said that when elected, he will bring civil rights groups and law enforcement groups together to address the issue.
Wallace shifted the conversation to Trump ending racial sensitivity training for federal employees.
Trump said that such teachings are racist themselves and supposedly teach people to “hate their country.”
Trump also brought up protests in Ferguson and Baltimore during the Obama administration as a refutation to Biden.
When asked to renounce white supremacy, Trump told the Proud Boys, a far-right group classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to “stand back and stand by.” He also repeatedly mentioned Antifa.
In regards to climate change, Trump said he wants “crystal clean water” and “beautiful clean air,” but that he hasn’t “destroyed our businesses.”
Trump said he believes forest management is needed to prevent wildfires like the ones in the West. He said that he cut back the Obama Clean Power Plan because of the rise of energy prices.
Biden said that he wants to move to renewable energy and create more ‘green’ jobs, along with adding more charging stations for electric vehicles.
Biden also wants the U.S to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, which Trump backed out from.
Trump touched on the Green New Deal, criticizing its price of “a hundred trillion dollars.” Biden said that he does not support the Green New Deal, aiming to act on “the Biden plan.”
The final question revolved around mail-in voting.
Biden said that mail-in voting is acceptable since there is no evidence of mail-in voting increasing voter fraud. He added that those who vote in-person should be able to, as poll workers will be maintaining social distancing.
Trump said that mail-in voting is a fraud and that people are already obtaining unsolicited ballots. He extends the issue of voter fraud to the physical polls, saying that his supporters should “go into the polls” and “watch them carefully.”
The debate was the first of this election year, with two more scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 22.