The First 2020 Presidential Debate: Here’s What You Missed

Juliana Ramirez, Editorial Editor

On September 29, 2020, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, met in person at the University of Cleveland for the first presidential debate of the 2020 election year. With tension in the air as the country divides itself over current day events ,such as the pandemic and protests against police brutality, 73 million viewers tuned in to hear the candidates give their perspective and planned policies to ease the worries of potential voters. 

Unfortunately, the debate failed to do the citizens justice by providing not just proper answers, but a proper debate itself. The majority of news outlets reported that the debate was an embarrassment on behalf of the country due to the lack of professionalism shown on the debate floor.

Chris Wallace acted as the debate moderator, making it the second presidential debate he’s taken the position. He brought topics of discussion for the candidates to discuss those being; the nominee records, the supreme court nominee, the pandemic, the economy, violence in cities, systematic racism, and the integrity of the election. The nominees were both given two minutes  to speak without interruption, 15 minutes in total including discussion.

Not long into the debate, Rebuplican nominee, President Trump began his series of interruptions, outbursts, and defensive remarks toward both Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Wallace.

At one point in the night President Trump had said to Chris Wallace, ”I guess I’m debating you.”

There was a lack of true discussion mentioning details of his policies the Trump administration is planning. The president still claims to have a replacement plan for Obama Care, however did not go follow up when asked to give detail.

In a count done by The Washington Post, President Trump interrupted Biden and the moderator a total of 71 times and Biden was also guilty of doing so 22 times throughout the night. Both were in violation of the agreed upon rules to give their opponent two full minutes of uninterrupted time to answer the question.

Straying away from the topics brought up by Wallace, Trump began a personal attack on the former Vice President’s son, Hunter Biden. With zero evidence to back up his claim, the president insisted that Hunter Biden accepted 3.5 million dollars from the mayor of Moscow’s wife. President Trump continued a relentless attack on Joe Biden’s son concerning the issues of his military discharge and his son’s history with substance abuse.

What most news outlets commended Biden for was turning his attention away from Trump’s attack, pointing his attention to the American people watching from home. 

“It’s not about my family. It’s not about your family. It’s about the American people,” Biden said to refocus the topic of conversation.

The New York Times found that Trump’s debate tactics attacked the history of Biden’s career in politics, similar to how he debated Hilary Clinton in 2016. However this time around, Biden had the upperhand in attacking flaws of the Trump Administration.

Biden’s more focused arguments against the President and his administration’s job in office pointed out the economy’s state after his four years in office. With the unemployment rate at such low rates due to the pandemic, Biden attacked his lack of an ability to maintain a stable economy, despite being handed one by the Obama administration.

“We handed him a booming economy. He blew it,” stated Biden.

To the disappointment of millions across the country, those were some of the only political points made throughout the night. The chaos that overtook the integrity of our democracy came in strong and it showed throughout the debate as the moderator lost control of the conversations. 

Topping it all off, when discussing the issues of racism in the country, Moderator Wallace asked the President of the United States to condemn white supremacy. Instead, President Trump outwardly named a known white supremisist group, Proud Boys, and said  “stand back and stand by ” on national television refusing to condemn white supremacy.

CNN’s Jake Tapper spoke on air after the debate concluded, stating that the debate was “a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.” 

Tapper also summarized the feelings of many by the end of his thoughts.
“I can tell you one thing for sure, the American people lost tonight because that was horrific,” Tapper spoke with disappointment.

With arguments over who could be declared a “winner” after the debate, CNN had taken professionally run polls to conclude some general agreements of the people.

In a poll taken before the debate,

  • Over 75% of Democrats believed Biden would win.
  • Over 50% of independent voters believed Biden would win.
  • Over 75% of Republicans believes Trump would win

In a NYTimes Poll taken at the Siena College in Florida,

  • Over 25% saw the Democrats as the winner
  • Less than 25% saw Republicans as the winner.
  • Over 50% disapproved of Trump’s conduct.
  • Less than 50% disapproved of Biden
  • Nearly 50% supported Trump less
  • Just over 25% supported Biden less.

The Presidential nominees held separate town halls on October 15. There will be a final Presidential Debate held on the 22nd of October, at 6pm PST.