On the evening of September 29th, the first presidential debate of the 2020 election season took place. Hosted by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University and moderated by Chris Wallace, this was a highly anticipated night by citizens across the country.
The night was one of three forthcoming opportunities for each candidate to appeal to undecided voters while reinforcing their visions and political strategies for the country.
Here are a few highlights of the monumental event.
The Supreme Court Nominee
The debate was split into several segments, with the first being the Supreme Court. Defending his controversial decision to resume the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, Trump said, “We won the election and therefore we have the right to choose her.”
However, Biden disagreed. He sighted procedural precedent, in which the previous Supreme Court selection (Brett M. Kavanaugh), was made by the incoming president, despite the opportunity for the then sitting (Democratic) president to make the decision. “We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is,” said Biden.
The discussion grew heated as Trump sought to strike down Biden’s arguments, stating, “I’m not elected for three years. I’m elected for four years.”
Trump was also reluctant to say that Judge Amy Coney Barrett would overturn Roe v. Wade, arguing that no one knows how she would vote. In 2016, Trump pledged Supreme Court nominees who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Healthcare And Preexisting Conditions
A question on health care led to an enraged moment early in the night. As Donald Trump continued to speak over Biden during his response to the moderator, Biden turned to Trump and said asked him to “shut up.”
During the health care discussion, which dominated the first 30 minutes of the debate, Trump accused Biden of trying to abolish private health care and being a “socialist.” Biden responded saying that he would expand Obamacare and continue to have private insurance under his administration.
After a few exchanges, when asked what his plan is to replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump insisted he had one but did not offer details and instead claimed that he would help protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. When Biden said, “100 million Americans have pre-existing conditions,” Trump said that he was wrong. According to NBC News, Biden was technically correct.
COVID -19 Is Not A National Emergency
This segment of the debate garnered an equal amount of facts as fiascos. First, Trump claimed that Biden lied about attending Delaware State University as he instead attended the University of Delaware. Then, Trump criticized Joe Biden claiming that he was the lowest in his graduating college class.
In regards to the country’s semi-lock down condition, Trump stated how he wants the country to open back up, because “it’s not fair.” Biden further mentioned how Trump did not want to give masks to schools because the pandemic is not considered a “national emergency” through the eyes of the administration.
The Economy And Tax Returns
Biden preached that Trump will become the first President in American history who will have fewer jobs established for American citizens when he leaves office than when he entered.
“People want their places open,” Trump declared, casting himself as a champion of reopening the economy and knocking Biden’s more cautious approach.
“People want to be safe,” Biden quickly retorted.
Finally, one of the most anticipated moments of the night…Trump’s $750 tax contribution in 2016 and 2017. In response to the New York Times article, Trump declared, “I paid millions of dollars in taxes, millions of dollars of income tax.” He further pivoted that as a private businessman it was in his interest to find ways to pay fewer taxes.
Trump Did Not Condemn White Supremacists
When the topic of white supremacist groups was fostered into the conversation, Trump did not condemn them. Instead, he pointed his finger at extremism among left-leaning groups. Moderator Wallace asked Trump, “Are you willing, tonight, to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and 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?”
After Trump responded he would, Biden said, “Then do it.”
Trump then claimed that the majority of violence he sees comes from leftist groups. Biden further mentioned the “Proud Boys” – a far-right and Neo-fascist organization that only admits men as members and promotes political violence. In response to this, Trump stated, “Proud boys: stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”