A rundown of the First Presidential Debate


Used from Flickr under Creative Commons by Andrea Widburg

2020 Presidential Debate. Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat candidate Joe Biden participated in the first presidential debate of 2020. It is uncertain if/when the next debate will take place due to President Trump’s COVID diagnosis.

Lucy Moon, Staff Writer

On September 29, 2020, the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden took place at the Samson Pavilion at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace attempted to moderate the debate which often derailed from the topics to insults and interruptions. Wallace highlighted different topics through the debate pertaining to the Supreme Court, the Coronavirus, the economy, the race riots, the environment, and the security of ballots.

Starting off the debate, Wallace asked the candidates to support their argument regarding the timing of the Supreme Court appointee. Trump believed that it is his constitutional right to appoint the nominee because he is still president; however, Biden believed voters should be able to express themselves on election day before another Supreme Court Justice is appointed. In response, Trump pointed out the hypocrisy of the Democrats’ argument regarding the Supreme Court nomination stating, “The Democrats wouldn’t even think about not doing it [appointing a Justice]. The only difference is they’d try to do it faster.” Biden stated that an election year should be an exception to appointing a Supreme Court nominee.

The candidates touched on their healthcare plans and their response to COVID-19. Trump talked about how he’s lowering drug prices, and Biden focused on criticizing Trump’s healthcare decisions during his presidency. Trump then moved into boasting about the efficient process in which his administration is developing a vaccine and his expeditious distribution plan of the vaccine. Biden countered by claiming that Trump’s efforts to combat COVID-19 were not enough in the first place. This quickly spiraled into a verbal brawl, with both sides hurling insults, including Biden calling his opponent a liar.

During the economy segment, Trump started off with his justification of the “V-shaped recovery” of the economy after reopening. A V-shaped recovery refers to a fast recovery of the economy after a massive drop in economic activity (unemployment, closure of businesses, less household income) due to COVID-19. Trump also warned about the consequences of closing down the economy, claiming that Biden will shut it down again.

Biden stressed his concerns about the safety of the American people saying, “You can’t fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis.”

Biden referred back to job creation in his term with Obama while Trump defended the American economy in his term. 

Regarding racial issues, Biden said that Trump “only ever wants to divide people,” and Trump retorted back with Biden’s past signing of the 1994 Crime Bill, which increased racial disparities in America. Biden responded that he will unite a group of “civil rights groups, police officers, and police chiefs” and work out a solution to systemic injustices. Trump then pointed out the actions he’s already taken as president dealing with injustices; Trump talked about his banning of racial sensitivity training in police academies and how they were “teaching people to hate our country,” while Biden exclaimed that Trump is a racist. Trump made it clear that he is on the side of law and order, exclaiming that Biden can’t even mention law and order because he’ll lose his radical left voters. Wallace then continued the topic by bringing up the violence associated with the Proud Boys and ANTIFA. Biden encouraged Trump to condemn the Proud Boys, in which he said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but somebody’s got to do something about ANTIFA and the left because this is not a right wing problem.”

Biden responded, “ANTIFA is an idea, not an organization.”

The debate ended with Trump forewarning America about the fraud that can and has occurred with unsolicited ballots, as nine states have adopted to the mass mail-out system: a system in which states mail every registered voter a ballot without a request.

The media summed it up as a debacle with many interruptions, lies, attacks, and confrontation. Left and right media outlets both declared their candidate the winner. Trump took to Twitter the next day to tweet, “Biden wants to pack the Supreme Court, thereby ruining it. Also, he wants no fracking, killing our Energy business, and JOBS. Second amendment is DEAD if Biden gets in! Is that what you want from a leader?He will destroy our country! VOTE NOW USA.” Biden also took to Twitter to say, “Donald Trump isn’t a law and order president. He’s a president who breaks the law and creates disorder.”

After the presidential debateSFHS AP Government teacher, Mr. Frilot, shared his perspective. He feels that “there wasn’t a lot of policy, and there was a lot of horse-race journalism.

He believes the debate could’ve been informative if Americans watched for their personalities; this could affect voters’ opinions on how each candidate would take on the presidency.

Additionally, multiple students at South had an opinion regarding the debate. Senior Brandon Cook felt the debate was not informative. The candidates mostly focused on “gaining popularity and disarming their opponent.”

Senior Monica Mazurek has a similar opinion, as she believes that it was uninformative, and “none of the questions got answered in the best way that they should’ve been.”

Overall, Trump bulldozed through the debate, not caring who he interrupted; Biden left questions unanswered, only leaving behind unrelated monologues peppered in between his insults to Trump. This debate left most voters undecided on a winner, unswayed from the party they identify with. The second presidential debate was cancelled, but the third presidential debate will be held on Thursday, October 22, 2020.