By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer
President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden clashed on stage with personal attacks, interruptions and name-calling in the first presidential debate of the 2020 election season Tuesday night.
The 90-minute debate was the first of three scheduled for the election season. It was moderated by Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace and took place in Cleveland.
Wallace pre-selected six topics for the debate. These topics included: Trump and Biden’s records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in US cities and the integrity of the election.
For each segment the candidates were allotted two uninterrupted minutes to give their opening statements after which they were allowed to move on to a free-for-all debate on the topic.
Although CNN reports that the two candidates spoke for approximately the same amount of time throughout the night, Trump appeared to talk over both his opponent and the moderator for the duration of the debate.
Just 18 minutes into the debate Biden said to Trump, “Will you shut up, man?”
At the beginning of the debate, Wallace brought up the Supreme Court vacancy and Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett.
Biden reiterated his belief that the next justice should be picked by the winner of the election and centered his argument on how the court vacancy had the power to alter the course of the country’s health care.
“We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is,” Biden said.
Trump’s response was that, as the sitting president, he has the constitutional right to fill the vacancy.
“I’m not elected for three years. I’m elected for four years,” Trump said.
When asked about court-packing, a possible solution posed by Democrats if Trump’s nominee successfully fills the vacancy, Biden declined to answer.
The candidates also debated the President’s response to the novel coronavirus and the proposed timeline of a coronavirus vaccine.
Biden said Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic made him the “worst president America has ever had,” citing that “he knew all the way back in February how serious this … was.”
Trump responded by recalling how the Obama administration handled the swine flu.
“You could never have done the job we did,” Trump said.
Trump also assured that a coronavirus vaccine would come soon but attributed its current delay to politics.
Another topic discussed at the debate was police reform. Biden made clear his opposition to recently discussed efforts to defund police departments nationwide.
“I’m totally opposed to defunding the police officers,” Biden said. “They need more assistance.”
Trump stuck to his firm stance of enforcing “law and order,” particularly in regard to recent incidents involving groups such as Antifa.
Hunter Biden, Trump’s taxes and voter fraud were also discussed throughout the debate.
Biden responded to Trump’s various accusations about his son by saying: “[Trump’s] family we could talk about all night.”
In regard to taxes, Trump dismissed the New York Times article that reported he paid only $750 in income tax in 2016 and 2017, saying that he paid “millions of dollars in taxes, millions of dollars of income tax.”
Despite proven evidence proving voter fraud is exceptionally rare, Trump ended the night with a rant about mail-in voting. He said he believes there is “going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen” in this election.
After the debate concluded, some Americans felt that there was no clear winner of the debate.
Midland junior Tripp Hankins, a member of the Baylor chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, said watching the debate was “grueling.”
“I thought Trump manhandled Chris Wallace half the debate,” Hankins said. “Trump was debating Chris Wallace, not Joe Biden.”
Hankins said he appreciated that Trump “stood his ground” in the environment segment but thought that his best argument was made when discussing law and order.
“The law and order message I thought was Trump’s best moment of the night,” Hankins said. “He was very strong in his support of law enforcement, and I thought that came off really well.”
Hankins said while he thinks Biden did “fine” during the debate, he believes Trump came out stronger.
“I do think overall Trump dominated as far as not necessarily winning but just in a sense of his presence and overall control of the debate … and Biden came off weak in that regard.” Hankins said. “You know, if Trump doesn’t defend himself, no one will.”
Editor’s Note: A member of Baylor Democrats originally agreed to comment for the story, but they could not be reached by the writer after the agreement. The story will be updated as soon as a member can be reached.