Trump and Biden face off in chaotic presidential debate
(CN) — The first presidential debate kicked off in Cleveland Tuesday with President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden shouting over each other in a chaotic affair where the moderator struggled to keep control of the event.
The debate was held at Case Western University in Cleveland, where “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace struggled at times to keep the candidates from interrupting each other.
“I think the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions,” Wallace said mid-debate.
Trump routinely interrupted Biden throughout the night, with the former vice president continually calling attention to the interruptions.
Things got heated enough at one point that an annoyed Biden asked the president, “Will you shut up, man?”
Despite the interruptions, the candidates were asked a plethora of policy questions on topics like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and race relations in America.
Biden hit the president hard on his response to Covid-19 and criticized Trump by saying “the president has no plan.”
Trump defended his record on the pandemic saying that his preventing travel from China saved lives. Unprompted, Trump also claimed that “we are weeks away from a vaccine.”
“We’ve done a great job,” Trump said, before going on to blame the media for mischaracterizing his record against the virus.
Wallace also questioned Trump on his taxes, which comes in the wake of a New York Times report that Trump has paid little in the way of federal income taxes in recent years.
“I’ve paid millions of dollars in taxes,” Trump told Wallace when questioned.
Perhaps in anticipation of such a line of questioning, Biden released his 2019 taxes to the public just hours before the debate.
Around the halfway point of the debate, Wallace questioned both candidates on race relations in America and specifically called on Trump to condemn white supremacist groups.
“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups?” Wallace asked.
“Sure, I’m willing to do that,” Trump said. “I would say that almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.”
Wallace hammered down on this point, again asking the president to condemn such groups.
Trump eventually said, “Proud Boys stand back and stand by.”
The statement referenced a right-wing white supremacist group known as the “Proud Boys,” which the Southern Poverty Law Centers labels a hate group.
Wallace then questioned Biden on what his statements of “reimagining the police.”
“Look, what I support is the police having the opportunity to deal with the problems they face,” Biden said. “We need to have community policing like we had before, where the officers get to know the people in the communities. That’s when crime went down.”
Trump brushed aside Biden’s remarks and touted his support from law enforcement groups, claiming those groups do not support the former vice president.
“He has no law enforcement support,” Trump said. “Almost nothing.”
On the topic of the Supreme Court, Biden laid out his case that the American people should get to pick the next Supreme Court justice by their election of the next president.
“The American people have the right to have a say in who the Supreme Court nominee is,” Biden said “We should wait and see what the outcome is. Because that is the only way the American people get to express what their view is.”
Trump fired back, praising his nominee Amy Coney Barrett and calling her “good in every way.” The president went on to say that he has the right to make the appointment because he was elected in 2016.
In a stark contrast to some of the primary debates, Wallace questioned both candidates on climate change.
“I believe we have to do everything we can to have immaculate air and immaculate water and do whatever else we can that’s good,” Trump said. “We are planting a billion trees.”
In his response, Biden claimed that his climate plan would create jobs and incentives for people to upgrade and weatherize their properties. He also said he would rejoin the Paris Climate Accord.
Trump bashed the proposed climate policy known as the Green New Deal. Biden responded by saying, “that’s not my plan.”
In the closing segment of the debate, Wallace asked both Trump and Biden about the integrity of the election and if they would support the outcome of the votes.
After urging people to vote and telling viewers that mail-in ballots are safe, Biden said win or lose that he would accept the results of the Nov. 3 election.
“Win that will be accepted, if I lose that will be accepted,” Biden said.
Trump struck up a familiar tone and made unsubstantiated claims that mail-in ballots were unsafe.
“As far as the ballots are concerned, it’s a disaster,” Trump said. “There’s fraud.”
His comments come just days after FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that his bureau has not seen any credible evidence of widespread voter fraud.
The next presidential debate will take place on Oct. 15, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. While the lone vice-presidential debate will be held at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Oct. 7.