US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden meet on Tuesday night in Cleveland for their first of three debates to be moderated by Fox News’ host Chris Wallace.
The debate will last 90 minutes without any commercial breaks. The topics for the debate are "The Trump and Biden Records," "The Supreme Court," "Covid-19," "The Economy," "Race and Violence in our Cities" and "The Integrity of the Election," according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The first question of the night went to Trump, and Wallace asked about the supreme court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, noting Republicans have been criticized for trying to get Barrett confirmed before the election.
Trump justified advancing the nomination by saying “elections have consequences,” referring to his White House victory in 2016, and by pledging Barrett would be “as good as anybody that has served on that court.”
“We won the election, and therefore we have the right to choose her,” Trump said.
Biden responded by saying the results of the upcoming election should determine who nominates the justice to fill the seat of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is,” Biden said.
Biden took issue with Coney Barrett’s past writings about the Affordable Care Act, but avoided launching any personal attacks against the supreme court nominee.
“I’m not opposed to the justice. She seems like a very fine person,” Biden said.
Trump claimed Biden wanted to push the country toward “socialist medicine,” to which Biden replied that he is not a socialist.
Biden replied to Trump’s broader attacks against Democrats by saying, “I am the Democratic party right now.”
Trump mocked Biden and suggested his comments on health care would cost him support among progressives.
Biden responded by calling Trump a “liar” and a “clown.” When Trump interrupted another one of Biden’s answers, he said, “Will you shut up, man?”
On the subject of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden criticized Trump’s response and said the country is still recording roughly 40,000 new cases a day.
Referencing Trump’s comments to journalist Bob Woodward that he downplayed the seriousness of the virus to avoid creating a panic, Biden told America, “You don’t panic, he panicked.”
After Biden criticized Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the president replied by saying, “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”
Trump questioned the effectiveness of masks as a means of mitigating the spread of coronavirus, to which Biden noted that health experts have said 100,000 lives could be saved over the next few months, if Americans consistently wear masks and practice social distancing.
The president responded by claiming many health experts have said “the opposite” about masks.
“No serious person has said the opposite,” Biden said.
Trump was asked about the New York Times story about his tax returns, which showed he paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.
The president said in response he had paid “millions” in income taxes. Biden fired back by repeatedly pressing Trump to release his tax returns, and the president claimed he would soon.
“You are the worst president America has ever had,” Biden said.
Trump attacked Biden’s son, Hunter, for his business dealings in Ukraine. Biden tried to redirect the conversation back to the coronavirus pandemic, saying this was about every American family and not his family.
Trump repeatedly tried to interject and attack his opponent, and Biden replied, “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown -- excuse me, this person.”
The final portion of the debate focused on election integrity. Biden focused his answer on encouraging Americans to vote.
“Show up and vote. You will determine the outcome of this election. Vote, vote, vote,” Biden said.
Biden referenced Trump’s criticism of voting by mail, which the president says will be vulnerable to widespread fraud.
Biden noted Trump himself has voted by mail in recent years. “He sits behind the Resolute Desk and sends his ballot to Florida,” claimed the Democratic nominee.
Trump reiterated that widespread voting by mail in this year’s elections would represent a “fraud”.
The president said Americans may not know the results of the election for “months”. Biden responded, “He’s just afraid of counting the votes.”