Presidential debate live: Donald Trump tries to steamroll Joe Biden in chaotic clash

Presidential debate live: Donald Trump tries to steamroll Joe Biden in chaotic clash


12:01

Key events so far…

Thanks so much for following our continued Trump-Biden debate coverage this morning. I’m going to be closing this live blog shortly, but you’ll be able to keep following the day’s US politics live with me on our new live blog for Wednesday. In the meantime, here’s a summary of where we are up to:

  • Last night saw a chaotic TV debate during which Donald Trump repeatedly hectored, insulted and interrupted Joe Biden.
  • Trump refused to condemn white supremacist group the Proud Boys, telling the far-right group often associated with violent protests to ‘stand back and stand by’, in a performance littered with false and exaggerated claims from the president.
  • Biden at one point lost his patience and snapped: “Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential”. He went on to call the president a clown, a liar and a racist.
  • Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News struggled to keep a check on proceedings, widely described as the worst presidential debate of all time – with our David Smith describing the event as a national humiliation.
  • Prior to the debate both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris released their most recent tax records. They’d paid more than $750.

There will be more coverage over here shortly…


11:37

Kathleen Hunter at Bloomberg has this morning described last night as a “mud-wrestling match”. She writes:



Refusing to give any ground, the president at times flustered Biden – whom he has for months sought to paint as senile — with unrelenting attacks on his family and policies. Trump, 74, made assertions — on election integrity, his income taxes, a potential coronavirus vaccine and other topics — that don’t stand up to fact-checking.

For her, she thought “The biggest takeaway from the unedifying spectacle might be Trump’s refusal again to commit to a peaceful transition.”

And she had this to say about the prospect of the remaining two debates:



The question now is whether the exchange will be more civil when the candidates meet on 15 October for their second debate and whether – with large portions of the electorate already having either decided on their pick or cast their ballot — the sessions even matter much.

Read it here: Bloomberg – US debate descends into mud-wrestling match


11:07

Reuters report what sounds like a testy reply from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in his daily conference call with reporters this morning.

Ask to comment on the US election, Peskov said that Russia, like many other nations in the world, is closely following the campaign, adding: “But we do not want to make any statements as this could be viewed as an attempt to intervene. Russia has never, is not and is not going to intervene in US domestic affairs.”

This denial is, of course, at odds with the CIA finding that Russia did attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, and recent warnings from William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, that Russia, China and Iran are all seeking to influence November’s vote.


10:43

Perhaps one of Joe Biden’s most effective moments in the debate last night was when he was asking the nation how many of you have an empty chair now at the breakfast table because you’ve lost someone through Covid. It demonstrated a personal empathy with the emotional impact of the pandemic across America that the president has often been criticised for not showing.

However, Time magazine’s Alice Park was unhappy with both candidates overnight in the way they approached the subject of the pandemic during the debate. She writes:


During the 15-minute segment dedicated to Covid-19 — which is still killing hundreds of Americans each day, and stands to worsen once again — neither Trump nor Biden provided any substantive plans for what health experts say will be a critical next few months, and possibly years, in the fight against the coronavirus. Instead of thoughtful plans for addressing the deadliest and most disruptive public health crisis the world has faced in a century, viewers got a mud-slinging brawl between two candidates who were mostly more interested in landing jabs than in providing any reassurance to an already edgy public reeling from lost loved ones, lost jobs and disrupted lives.

The personal attacks and repeated interruptions from the candidates overshadowed any opportunity for voters to form a firm picture of how either Trump or Biden plan to navigate the remainder of this pandemic—not to mention the upcoming flu season.

In particular she pointed out that instead of explaining how a vaccine could be distributed, “Trump and Biden tussled over the Trump Administration’s constant conflict with scientists and public health experts and their differing views on how to safely reopen society.”

Yesterday there were 43,355 new coronavirus cases and 918 new Covid deaths reported in the US.

Read it here: Time – The Trump-Biden debate was a missed opportunity to provide Americans with clarity on Covid-19


10:31

Nevada is another closely watched state during presidential elections. Hillary Clinton won it last time out, as Barack Obama had done in the previous two elections. But Nevada voted Republican for Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush and George W. Bush.

The state’s attorney general, Aaron D. Ford, expressed concern on social media last night after the president appeared to be encouraging voter intimidation during the debate.

Aaron D. Ford
(@AaronDFordNV)

Trump also told “his supporters” to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.”

But he wasn’t talking about poll watching. He was talking about voter intimidation.

FYI — voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada. Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.

September 30, 2020


10:27

The battle to win Florida in November is a keenly fought one, with 29 Electoral College votes at stake. Last time Trump carried the state by 49-47 against Hillary Clinton.

The Miami Herald this morning is leading with two direct quotes from the candidates. Trump telling Biden “There’s nothing smart about you. 47 years, you’ve done nothing”, and Biden telling Trump “You are the worse president America has ever had.”

Miami Herald
(@MiamiHerald)

Good morning, South Florida. Here is Wednesday’s front page. Keep up with the news at https://t.co/SUDth1TjN2 … And subscribe to support local coverage: https://t.co/QBR6bTYsRC pic.twitter.com/bfv21q8TTM

September 30, 2020

Biden will be visiting Miami for the first time during his 2020 campaign on Monday, when he will be doing a town hall style debate for NBC.


10:12

Associated Press have rounded up a little international reaction to last night. They note that Hu Xijin, editor of China’s nationalistic Communist party tabloid Global Times, said that the “chaos, interruptions, personal attacks and insults” on display were a reflection of America’s “overarching division, anxiety and the accelerating erosion of the system’s original advantages.”

“I used to admire this kind of televised debate in American politics, but I have much more mixed feelings when watch it again now,” wrote Hu, who personally and through his paper routinely attacks American policies.

“Indeed, the overall image of the United States is growing more and more complicated in my eyes,” Hu wrote.

The editor-at-large of the newspaper The Australian, Paul Kelly, described the debate as a “spiteful, chaotic, abusive, often out-of-control brawling encounter with both candidates revealing their contempt for each other.”

Another Australian, conservative politician Tim Wilson, told ABC that “For most part, it was a slanging match between President Trump and Vice President Biden. I’ve got to say, I thought it was pretty unedifying in terms of a discussion, not just about the future of America, but ultimately because of the might of the United States, about the rest of the world as well.”

Updated


10:01

Here’s our highlights reel from last night – it is six minutes that will give the you the flavour of the extent to which the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden deteriorated into an ugly display of contempt. The president relentlessly interrupted and attacked his Democratic rival during clashes over the coronavirus pandemic, racism, the economy, mail-in voting and the future of the supreme court, with moderator Chris Wallace seemingly powerless to intervene.


Biden and Trump trade insults in frenzied presidential debate – video highlights


09:46

The world-weary tone of the Washington Post fact-checkers was in evidence again as they assessed the truthfulness of 21 claims made during the debate.

As they put it: “Trump repeatedly relied on troublesome and false facts that have been debunked throughout his presidency. Biden, by contrast, stretched the truth on occasion.

Among the more trivial claims from Trump they debunk are that he was responsible for bring back Big Ten football, a falsehood about where Biden went to college, saying Biden supported the Green New Deal whose details Trump mis-stated into the bargain, and over-estimating the number of judges he’s appointed.

More seriously, the Post had this to say about Trump’s rigged election message:



As usual, Trump offered a baseless conspiracy theory that widespread use of mail ballots during an infectious disease pandemic would lead to massive voter fraud. There is simply no evidence for these claims. The Department of Homeland Security says Russia is spreading the same kind of disinformation to sow doubts about mail balloting and the integrity of the US election.

On his claim to be lowering drug prices, the Post notes “There is just no evidence for this pie-in-the-sky prediction”, and on his frequent boast about having presided over the best US economy of all time, they state “By just about any important measure, the economy under Trump has not done as well as it did under presidents Eisenhower, Johnson and Clinton.”

For his part, Joe Biden was incorrect to claim that the US has “a higher deficit with China now than we did before”, and the Post said that he used a “selective presentation” of crime figures to put his record in a better light than Trump’s.

Read it here: Washington Post – Fact-checking the first Trump-Biden presidential debate


09:22

Updated


09:12

David Smith

Cry, the beloved country. Donald Trump ensured Tuesday’s first US presidential debate was the worst in American history, a national humiliation. The rest of the world – and future historians – will presumably look at it and weep.

More likely than not, according to opinion polls, his opponent Joe Biden will win the November election and bring the republic back from the brink. If Trump is re-elected, however, this dark, horrifying, unwatchable fever dream will surely be the first line of America’s obituary.

Only one man looked remotely presidential on the debate stage in Cleveland, Ohio, and it was not the incumbent. He interrupted, ranted, raged, spewed lies and interrupted some more. Oh, and he passed on an opportunity to condemn white supremacists, instead telling them to “stand back and stand by”.

The debate moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, did not cover himself in glory either. He was a like a school supply teacher, hopelessly out of his depth as unruly children run riot. He did not enforce the rules or cut the president’s mic.

Facing this asymmetric bullying, Biden showed self-control and stood his ground. He spoke for tens of millions of Americans when he demanded: “Will you shut up, man?” – the Biden campaign rushed out this slogan on a T-shirt before the debate was even over.

Five weeks before the election, the debate pitted an ageing white male against an ageing orange male sweating like Richard Nixon in 1960. Anyone hoping for elegant verbal jousting or rapier-like wit was in for a disappointment.

Read more here: Donald Trump ensures first presidential debate is national humiliation


09:08

A debate like last night’s – 90 minutes long and a torrent of false and misleading claims – is an absolute nightmare for the fact-checkers among us. However, it does become slightly easier if the subject of the false claims can provide their own fact-check in real-time.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports this morning that Multnomah county sheriff Mike Reese jumped straight onto Twitter after president Donald Trump appeared to claim that he had secured the endorsement of the “Portland sheriff”

Mike Reese
(@SheriffReese)

In tonight’s presidential debate the President said the “Portland Sheriff” supports him. As the Multnomah County Sheriff I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him.

September 30, 2020

Portland in Oregon has seen near-continuous nightly Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd in May, which have often been met with force by local and federal authorities.


08:53

This was the verdict of Delaware’s Democratic Senator Chris Coons on last night, as the chaotic debate opens the possibility that the Biden campaign may request format changes going forward.



It was very hard to follow what was being said, and President Trump showed not just disrespect to the moderator, but to the American people who tuned in trying to figure out what his plans are. The point of the debate is for the American people to make a decision, informed by hearing from the two candidates on what’s your record, what are your values? Joe Biden came prepared to respect the American people. Donald Trump did not.

As well as next week’s hotly anticipated vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, there are two further Trump-Biden debates currently in the calendar. You can pop Thursday 15 October at 9pm ET in Florida and Thursday 22 October at 8pm CDT in Tennessee into your diary now.

There were questions from the media immediately after last night as to whether Joe Biden and his team might pull out of the remaining two due to the president’s behaviour. They’ve ruled that out.

However, on a call with reporters, Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said that the campaign was in ongoing talks with the commission who govern the rules for the debates, saying “I would imagine there would be some additional conversations” going forward.

The Trump campaign were also unhappy with the moderation by Chris Wallace last night. However, their view was that “Chris Wallace jumped in too often to save Biden from himself when he had backed himself into a corner or couldn’t come up with an answer”, according to campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.


08:42

National political reporter Sahil Kapur has weighed in for NBC News with his four key takeaways from last night. He identifies:

  • Trump’s interruptions, Biden’s clapbacks – the president came out swinging, with constant interruptions and attempts to throw Biden off-balance. Biden didn’t shrink from the moment, repeatedly knocking Trump as a “clown” and a “liar” who wouldn’t stop “yapping”.
  • Trump doesn’t condemn white supremacists – in a debate during which Biden called Trump a “racist” to his face, one of the most significant moments came when Wallace asked the president whether he was willing to condemn white supremacists and “militia” groups. Trump appeared irritated.
  • A clash over the economy – Trump sprinkled in attacks on Biden for having spent four decades in public office and having failed to fix many of the problems he now says he’s running for president to tackle.
  • Biden shivs the left – Biden did his best to distance himself from the left throughout the debate. He repeatedly denounced the Green New Deal. Early on, Biden said that he was “not opposed to” Trump’s supreme court pick. He also went out of his way to make it clear that he opposes calls to “defund the police”.

Read it in full here: NBC News – ‘Clown.’ ‘Liar.’ ‘Racist.’: 4 takeaways from the chaotic first Trump-Biden debate

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