President Trump and 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sniped and snarled repeatedly during their first debate, a meeting that was supposed to offer voters a clear contrast in policy and temperament but more often provided a stage for the two candidates to vent personal grievances.
The 90-minute, commercial-free debate, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, was supposed to be organized around six central topics: the candidates’ records, the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, race and civil unrest, and election integrity. But that neat, tidy structure was tested as the opponents niggled one another and leveled personal attacks, including Trump targeting Biden’s family and Biden going after the president’s finances.
A sober discussion of serious public policy topics was largely derailed by snide remarks and retorts between the two White House rivals.
“Will you shut up, man?” Biden asked Trump at one point during crosstalk. “That was really a productive segment, wasn’t it?”
At another moment, Trump mocked the two-term vice president’s intelligence.
“Last in your class, not first in your class,” Trump said of Biden’s academic credentials.
Biden, who originally promised to fact-check Trump and was warned by staff to keep his “Irish” in check, appeared visibly rankled in spots and bemused at others.
“I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar,” Biden said.
But about midway through the debate Biden added, exasperated, “You’re the worst president we’ve ever had.”
A key point came when Trump broached Hunter Biden’s appointment to Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and his business dealings in China and Russia, transactions pivotal to the president’s impeachment.
“My son did nothing wrong,” Biden said.
The first question focused on the forthcoming Supreme Court fight, and the pending case questioning the constitutionality of Obamacare. Trump claimed the