'Hot mess inside a dumpster fire': Presidential debate goes off the rails

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 30 Sep 2020, 1:52PM

'Hot mess inside a dumpster fire': Presidential debate goes off the rails

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 30 Sep 2020, 1:52PM


Marked by angry interruptions and bitter accusations, the first debate erupted in contentious exchanges over the coronavirus pandemic, city violence, job losses and how the Supreme Court will shape the future of the nation's health care, AP reported.

In what was the most chaotic presidential debate in recent years, somehow fitting for what has been an extraordinarily ugly campaign, the two men frequently talked over each other with Trump interrupting, nearly shouting, so often that Biden eventually snapped at him, "Will you shut up, man?''
"The fact is that everything he's said so far is simply a lie,'' Biden said. "I'm not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he's a liar."

Over and over, Trump tried to control the conversation, interrupting Biden and repeatedly talking over the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News. The president tried to deflect tough lines of questioning, whether on his taxes or the pandemic, to deliver broadsides against Biden.

The president drew a lecture from Wallace, who pleaded with both men to stop interrupting. Biden tried to push back against Trump, sometimes looking right at the camera to directly address viewers rather than the president and snapping, "It's hard to get a word in with this clown."

The vitriol exploded into the open when Biden attacked Trump's handling of the pandemic, saying that the president "waited and waited" to act when the virus reached America's shores and "still doesn't have a plan." Biden told Trump to "get out of your bunker and get out of the sand trap'' and go in his golf cart to the Oval Office to come up with a bipartisan plan to save people.

Trump snarled a response, declaring that "I'll tell you Joe, you could never have done the job that we did. You don't have it in your blood."

The pandemic's effects were in plain sight, with the candidates' lecterns spaced far apart, all of the guests in the small crowd tested and the traditional opening handshake scrapped. The men did not shake hands and, while neither candidate wore a mask to take the stage, their families did sport face coverings.

Trump struggled to define his ideas for replacing the Affordable Care Act on health care in the debate's early moments and defended his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, declaring that "I was not elected for three years, I'm elected for four years.''

"We won the election. Elections have consequences. We have the Senate. We have the White House and we have a phenomenal nominee, respected by all."

As the conversation moved to race, Biden accused Trump of walking away from the American promise of equity for all and making a race-based appeal.

"This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division," Biden said.
Recent months have seen major protests after the deaths of Black people at the hands of police.

And Biden said there is systemic racist injustice in this country and while the vast majority of police officers are "decent, honourable men and women" there are "bad apples" and people have to be held accountable.

Trump, in turn, claimed that Biden's work on a federal crime bill treated the African American population "about as bad as anybody in this country."

The president pivoted to his hardline focus on those protesting racial injustice and accused Biden of being afraid to use the words "law and order," out of fear of alienating the left.

"Violence is never appropriate," Biden said. "Peaceful protest is."

With just 35 days until the election, and early voting already underway in some states, Biden stepped onto the stage holding leads in the polls, significant in national surveys, close in some battleground states, and looking to expand his support among suburban voters, women and seniors.

Surveys show the president has lost significant ground among those groups since 2016, but Biden faces his own questions encouraged by Trump's withering attack.

Following the debate, Biden took to Twitter to drive home his views.

"Under this president, we have become weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided, and more violent," he wrote.

"When I was vice president, we inherited a recession, I was asked to fix it, and I did.
"We left Donald Trump a booming economy, and he caused a recession."

Trump also took to his favour social media platform, Twitter, posting a video of why the American public should be fearful of Biden.