5 Big Moments From The Chaotic US 2020 Presidential Debate

<img alt="This combination of pictures shows US president Donald Trump during the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (Photo: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)” class=” Maw(100%)” itemprop=”url” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/sb847ppyiPN98HZBpUFbFw–~A/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5f73f35524000072241ee2a6.jpeg” data-reactid=”9″><img alt="This combination of pictures shows US president Donald Trump during the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (Photo: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)” class=”Maw(100%)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/sb847ppyiPN98HZBpUFbFw–~A/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAw/https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/5f73f35524000072241ee2a6.jpeg” itemprop=”url”>

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<figcaption class="C($c-fuji-grey-h) Fz(13px) Py(5px) Lh(1.5)" title="This combination of pictures shows US president Donald Trump during the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (Photo: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)” data-reactid=”21″>

This combination of pictures shows US president Donald Trump during the first presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (Photo: SAUL LOEB via Getty Images)
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The first US presidential debate of the 2020 election campaign descended into personal attacks and constant interruptions – as commentators spoke of a national embarrassment largely caused by Donald Trump’s aggressive behaviour.” data-reactid=”26″>The first US presidential debate of the 2020 election campaign descended into personal attacks and constant interruptions – as commentators spoke of a national embarrassment largely caused by Donald Trump’s aggressive behaviour.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Broadcasters on the CNN cable news channel immediately condemned the face-off between the US president and Democrat challenger Joe Biden as a “shitshow” and “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck”.” data-reactid=”27″>Broadcasters on the CNN cable news channel immediately condemned the face-off between the US president and Democrat challenger Joe Biden as a “shitshow” and “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck”.

The chaotic scenes in Cleveland, Ohio were marked by Biden’s low energy and attempts to speak directly to the camera, while Trump countered with ferocity and bullying. Moderator Chris Wallace, from Fox News, repeatedly failed to control the debate. Few coherent points were made.

It was the first of three scheduled presidential debates – and one vice presidential debate – but questions were being asked as to whether there is any point to completing the series. Here are some of the key moments from a bizarre night.

 

1. Exchange of insults

As the first discussion about the Supreme Court quickly turned to coronavirus, Trump claimed without evidence two million people would have died if Biden were president. In the real world, more than 200,000 have died on Trump’s watch.

Wallace pleaded with Trump, stating that Covid-19 would be discussed later in the debate – but the president attempted to muscle his way through. He said: “First of all, I guess I’m debating you, not him, but that’s OK. I’m not surprised.”

It was the start of the souring of the mood. 

“Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential,” said Biden, exasperated, after repeated interruptions during only the first segment of the debate.

 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The insults continued to flow.&nbsp;Biden&nbsp;called&nbsp;Trump&nbsp;a “clown” and a “racist” and told him: “You’re the worst president America has ever had.”” data-reactid=”42″>The insults continued to flow. Biden called Trump a “clown” and a “racist” and told him: “You’re the worst president America has ever had.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Trump, without prompting, launched into an attack on Biden’s school record,&nbsp;objecting to Biden using the word “smart”.” data-reactid=”43″>Trump, without prompting, launched into an attack on Biden’s school record, objecting to Biden using the word “smart”.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“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,”&nbsp;Trump&nbsp;said.” data-reactid=”44″>“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,” Trump said.

Hillary Clinton took keen interest in the back and forth.

 

 

2. Trump fails to condemn the far right

Beyond the talking over each other and interruptions, the biggest talking point was Trump failing to condemn white supremacists and military groups.

The president was offered the chance to issue a blanket condemnation of far-right groups.

“Sure, I’m willing to do that,” Trump said.

“Go ahead, sir,” Wallace responded, and after more back and forth: “Do it, sir.”

Biden echoed: “Say it.”

“What do you want to call them? Give me a name. What do you want to condemn?,” Trump asked.

Wallace responded: “White supremacists and right-wing militia.”

“The Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by,” Trump responded ambiguously, referring to the far-right group.

 

 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="At least one Proud Boy organiser, Joe Biggs, celebrated the group’s mention on the social media platform Parler, saying: “President&nbsp;Trump&nbsp;told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA…well sir! we’re ready!!” according to screenshots posted by a New York Times reporter on Twitter.” data-reactid=”66″>At least one Proud Boy organiser, Joe Biggs, celebrated the group’s mention on the social media platform Parler, saying: “President Trump told the proud boys to stand by because someone needs to deal with ANTIFA…well sir! we’re ready!!” according to screenshots posted by a New York Times reporter on Twitter.

 

 

3. Personal attack on Biden’s son

The two candidates also traded insults regarding each other’s families.

As Biden was making a point about the Trump administration’s trade deals with China not having the desired effect, Trump interrupted by digging up past claims about the former vice president’s son Hunter working overseas.

Trump said Hunter Biden reaped millions in ill-gotten profit from China and other overseas interests, accusations that have been repeatedly debunked.

Biden shot back “none of that is true”, before adding of his opponent: “His family, we could talk all night.”

 

 

Trump interrupted to respond that his children gave up lucrative jobs to join government and “help people”, which left moderator Wallace pleading for order to be restored on the stage: “Mr President, please stop,”

Biden then turned to the camera and addressed the audience directly, something he did frequently throughout the debate: “This is not about my family or his family. It’s about your family.”

Trump, when Biden was talking about his late son, Beau, also brought up Hunter Biden’s cocaine use. Biden looked at the camera and said he was proud of his son who has overcome his drug problems.

 

4. Trump’s unfounded voter fraud warning

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Trump&nbsp;has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, and fears the president may refuse to leave the White House were fuelled after Wallace asked both candidates if they will “not declare victory until the election has been independently verified”.” data-reactid=”89″>Trump has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, and fears the president may refuse to leave the White House were fuelled after Wallace asked both candidates if they will “not declare victory until the election has been independently verified”.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Trump&nbsp;repeated his unfounded allegations that postal voting would lead to fraud. Experts say fraud is extremely rare.” data-reactid=”90″>Trump repeated his unfounded allegations that postal voting would lead to fraud. Experts say fraud is extremely rare.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Trump&nbsp;said he expected the Supreme Court might have to decide the election and “look at the ballots”. He urged his supporters to go and watch the balloting.” data-reactid=”91″>Trump said he expected the Supreme Court might have to decide the election and “look at the ballots”. He urged his supporters to go and watch the balloting.

“If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that,” he said, adding: “They cheat.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Biden&nbsp;urged Americans to make a plan to vote and assured voters that&nbsp;Trump&nbsp;would be gone if&nbsp;Biden&nbsp;wins. He said he would not declare victory until the outcome was validated.” data-reactid=”93″>Biden urged Americans to make a plan to vote and assured voters that Trump would be gone if Biden wins. He said he would not declare victory until the outcome was validated.

 

5. Trump’s false claims on rallies and coronavirus

Biden blasted Trump for his botched response to the coronavirus pandemic, accusing Trump of panicking in the face of a historic public health crisis and hiding the threat from the American people. 

The Democratic candidate noted that when Trump was presented with the dire statistics in an August interview with Axios, he dismissed them with “It is what it is.” 

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“It is what it is because you are who you are. That’s why it is,” Biden said. “The president has no plan.”&nbsp;” data-reactid=”98″>“It is what it is because you are who you are. That’s why it is,” Biden said. “The president has no plan.” 

Trump defended his response to the coronavirus crisis by blaming the death of 200,000 Americans on China and hurling insults at Biden. 

Trump added that Biden could “never have done the job we did” and claimed “millions of people” would have died if the decision-making had been left to him. 

 

(Photo: JIM WATSON via Getty Images)(Photo: JIM WATSON via Getty Images)

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(Photo: JIM WATSON via Getty Images)

 

The president also refuted any notion that his campaign rallies, some of which were held inside with large crowds, contributed to the spread of the coronavirus. “So far we have had no problem whatsoever,” he said. “We have tremendous crowds as you see, and literally on 24 hours notice.”

“We’ve had no negative effect,” Trump claimed, falsely.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which attracted more than 6,000 supporters and was held indoors, was “likely” the source of a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases in the area in late June, the Tulsa City-County Health Department said.” data-reactid=”125″>Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which attracted more than 6,000 supporters and was held indoors, was “likely” the source of a dramatic surge in Covid-19 cases in the area in late June, the Tulsa City-County Health Department said.

A reporter, six of Trump’s campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the rally.

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.” data-reactid=”131″>This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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