President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden met on stage in Cleveland, Ohio, for the first time in a 90-minute presidential debate marked by heated interruptions over topics including the Supreme Court, health care, the COVID-19 pandemic, violence in cities and the economy.
Chris Wallace, moderator and Fox News host, began the debate with his first question regarding the Supreme Court and Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett over the weekend to succeed the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump said Republicans have control of the Senate and White House, so they have the right to choose Barrett as a Supreme Court Justice nominee. She’s outstanding and will be as good as anyone that has served on the Supreme Court, he said.
Trump said if he has to wait to appoint Barrett as justice after the November presidential election, then that’s fine because he will have time to do so.
“We won the election and therefore we have the right to choose her, and very few people knowingly would say otherwise,” Trump said.
In response to Wallace’s question, Biden said Americans have the right to have a say in the Supreme Court Justice nomination when voting for senators and a president.
However, the election has begun and people have started to vote, he said, and picking a Supreme Court Justice should be put on hold until after the election.
Biden mentioned that Trump’s nomination of Barrett is an attempt to strip the Affordable Care Act — commonly known as “Obamacare” — which former President Barack Obama signed into law.
According to a NPR fact check, Trump has promised to offer a GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act but has yet to do so.
The two candidates continued going back and forth on the issue of health care, in heated interruptions.
Wallace’s second topic for debate was on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Why should the American people trust you more than your opponent to deal with this public health crisis going forward?” Wallace asked.
Biden said Trump knew since the start of the pandemic of the seriousness of COVID-19 but made little effort in combating the disease. The White House should continue providing funding for protective gear and to businesses and schools in order to stay open, he said.
All that costs a lot of money, Biden said.
“You should get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap in your golf course and go in the Oval Office,” Biden said. “Bring together the Democrats, Republicans and fund what needs to be done now to save lives.”
Trump said more people would have died from COVID-19 if the U.S. listened to Biden, and had not implemented travel restrictions. Trump also said his administration has provided equipment such as masks and ventilators to combat COVID-19, and the U.S. is weeks away from a vaccine. A vaccine could be weeks away, but the distribution to the general public will be much later, according to NPR.
Fewer people are dying and less are getting sick, he said. However, that isn’t depicted because of the “fake news,” Trump said. According to NPR, daily COVID-19 cases are on the rise in nearly half of the U.S. states.
“They give you good press, [and] they give me bad press because that’s the way it is, unfortunately, but let me just say something: I don’t care, I've gotten used to it,” Trump said. “I’ll tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job that we did, you don’t have it in your blood.”
The two candidates again continued going back and forth on the issue of the coronavirus pandemic, in heated interruptions.
In the third segment of the debate, Wallace asked about the economy’s recovery due to COVID-19, with Trump answering first.
Trump said his administration has built the greatest economy in history. Although he had to close down many businesses due to the pandemic, now that the U.S. is reopening, the country is doing record business, he said.
However, Biden wants to shut down the economy, he said.
According to NPR, 10.6 million jobs have been added in the last four months, less than half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. Biden has also not advocated for closing down the economy but rather has voiced more caution about reopening, according to the fact check.
Trump said Americans know what to do. They can social distance, wash their hands and wear masks, however, businesses need to open back up.
“This guy will close down the whole country and destroy [it],” Trump said. “Our country is coming back incredibly well, setting records as it does it. We don't need somebody to come in and say, ‘Let’s shut it down.’”
Biden said millionaires and billionaires like Trump have done well amid the pandemic because of Trump’s focus on the market while frontline and essential workers and working-class Americans aren’t doing well.
People have lost jobs and some have lost their lives, but Trump continues to attempt to reopen the entire economy, he said.
“You can’t fix the economy until you fix the [COVID-19] crisis, and he has no intention of doing anything about making it better for you all at home, in terms of your health and your safety,” Biden said.
Again, the two candidates continued going back and forth on the issue of the current economy, in heated interruptions. At one point, Wallace had to raise his voice at both candidates.
“I think that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions,” Wallace said.
In one of the last segments, Wallace asked the two candidates why voters should trust either candidate for the next four years when dealing with issues of race, with Biden answering first.
“It’s about equity and equality, it’s about decency, it’s about the Constitution,” Biden said. “We have never walked away from trying to acquire equity for everyone, equality for the whole American — but we’ve never accomplished it.”
However, he said Trump has walked away from acquiring equity for everyone.
Biden also mentioned a protest held outside the White House in regards to the death of George Floyd, a Black man from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who was killed in the custody of a white police officer. The military clashed with protesters by throwing tear gas outside, while Trump remained in a bunker.
“The fact is that you have to look at what he’s talked about, you have to look at what he did,” Biden said. “And what he did has been disastrous for the African American community.”
Trump responded by bringing up Biden’s support of the 1994 Crime Bill, a piece of legislation aimed to address rising crime. It contained extensive policing and crime prevention provisions.
Trump said Biden has treated the Black community just as bad as anyone else in the country.
Other issues the candidates debated on included the Green New Deal, protests in the U.S. and voter integrity.
The full debate can be found here. The first vice presidential debate will be held Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Vice President Mike Pence and Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris.
To fact check the first presidential debate, readers can go to this link.