Presidential Debate 9/29/20


Vanessa Martocci

On Tuesday, September 29 Fox News anchor Chris Wallace moderated and chose the topics of discussion for the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio at Case Western Reserve University. The second presidential debate will be held in Miami, Florida at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and moderated by Steve Scully (known most for his work with C-SPAN and The Washington Journal). The third and final debate will be moderated by NBC News’ Kristen Welker at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden had ninety minutes to share their views with the public. President Trump looked strong in the polls before; however, Biden is now in the lead. Because both candidates traded insults and frequently interrupted each other throughout, this made it difficult to comprehend at times. Here is my take:

Trump’s decision to appoint Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court

Trump obviously supported his decision, saying he feels he has the power to make this decision and was confident in his decision because he was elected for four years, not three. Biden had an opposing stance, relaying the message the “people” should have a say in who they want to be in this position and the decision should wait until the next elected president is sworn into office.

COVID-19 and Healthcare

Biden expressed Trump “panicked” when handling the pandemic. Trump’s rebuttal mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask often. Trump added the comment, “We are weeks away from a vaccine”; however, there is no significant information supporting this. When asked about the statistics of cases and deaths, President Trump said “It is what it is.” Trump explained his events have one, been all outside, and two, safe and socially distanced. But do you all remember his Tulsa rally? On the contrary, Biden has had smaller crowds at all events; therefore, according to the CDC Guidelines, they have been somewhat safer. 

President Trump wants to get rid of Obama Care. He believes that his plan will benefit the people more and will have fewer flaws. Former Vice President Biden claims Trump has no health care plan and proceeded to say, “It’s hard to get any word in with this clown.”  

The United States Economy

Trump began his statement by saying he has “built the greatest economy” and had to “shut it down because of the China plague.” Small businesses are struggling, and Trump claims he is planning to help them. He went on to say, “People want their places open,” with Biden refuting that statement, saying, “People want to be safe.” Rather than continue on this subject, Trump completely changed the subject to something not quite relevant in a presidential debate, commenting, “I brought back football.” Wallace then attempted to get the topic back on track by asking about Mr. Trump’s federal income taxes from 2016. Trump said he paid “millions of dollars.” Meanwhile, The New York Times obtained Trump’s tax information and uncovered that he paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he became president.

Racism in the United States

Right from the start, Trump began to talk about crime and “law and justice” and then proceeded to not condemn white supremacists and said directly to a violent far-right fraternity, the Proud Boys, to “stand back and stand by.” Opposingly, Biden said, “We have to have a system where people are held accountable,” which referenced police brutality and the murder of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others. 

(The next topic was why each candidate felt the people should vote for them. There was not much substance that came out of this; rather, Biden and Trump aimed personal attacks at each other.)

Climate Change

President Trump said he wants “crystal clean water and air”; however, he did not give any substantial explanation or plan on how he would do this. Keep in mind, he significantly cut funding for climate change crises in 2019. He then explained that forests of California that are currently burning, need “better forest management.” Biden reminded the public that most forests in California are federal property. He then said he has a plan in place to get necessary environmental justice, however, he was interrupted many times and could not describe his whole plan. He did however say he was not in favor of the Green New Deal, but rather his own plan, which does incorporate some of its aspects.

(Finally, Wallace asked both candidates about the integrity of the election, and once again, they continued to cut each other off while speaking. Therefore, there was not much substance here, either.)