6 Main Takeaways From the Debate: What Was Said, What Was NOT Said, and What Was Just Plain False
The first Presidential Debate of 2020 was filled with interruptions, insults, and low blows. The presidential candidates discussed the vacancy on the Supreme Court bench, climate change, the COVID-19 Pandemic, racial tensions and social justice protests, violence, the economy, and election integrity.
In a recent Instagram Story where Latinas in the FIERCE community were asked what they would have liked the candidates to discuss, numerous community individuals said they would have also liked the candidates to address immigration, DACA, and go more in depth on Black and Brown communities. This did not happen. Here are the major takeaways you need to know:
1. Trump Interrupting And Speaking Out Of Turn
It was hard to hear what either candidate said they planned to do once elected for the next four years if elected president. President Trump continually interrupted former Vice President Joe Biden or talked over him during his turn to speak making it increasingly difficult for the audience to hear what Biden had to say.
Biden at one point responded with “Will you shut up, man.”
Moderator Chris Wallace raised his voice several times during the night and stopped to remind the President that he agreed to follow the speaking rules during the debate. Despite this, the President continually ignored Wallace’s pleas for civility. Even Wallace, a skilled and experienced broadcast journalist and anchor who hosts Fox News Sunday, had an overwhelmingly difficult time keeping President Trump from following the speaking and debate rules. The people took to social media on behalf of Chris Wallace including AOC herself.
2. Trump Insisting The Elections Could Be Tampered
Toward the end of the debate, President Trump went on a tirade on how this election would be fraudulent due to mail-in voting, even though people like the military have been doing it since the Civil War. Trump claimed that ballots which casted votes for Trump were found in ditches, streams, and trash cans. He also alluded that it may even take months until after Election Day to count all the ballots since many ballots would be submitted on November 3rd and would still need to be counted. Still, according to professional voter analytics, these claims have been proven as false, misleading, or misinformed.
3. Trump Failed To Condemn White Supremacist Groups
Moderator Chris Wallace asked President Trump if he would condemn white supremacists in light of certain examples such as what happened in Virginia in 2018 with white supremacist protestors. When the issue of racism and current nationwide protests were brought up, Trump asked Wallace “Who do you want me to condemn?” and “What do you call them?” directed towards Wallace when Wallace asked Trump about condemning white supremacists. Trump said “sure,” but instead followed saying most of the problems he sees come from the far left and “Antifa” groups, short for “anti-fascist” a group known to be extreme left and violent when situations arise.
On the opposite side of Antifa is an extreme-right group with ties to white nationalists called The Proud Boys, an all-male group who are anti-immigrant, known for violence, and champion ideas such as “Make America great again,” “give everyone a gun,” and “venerate the housewife.”
With an opportunity in front of millions for Trump to condemn white supremacy, he simply did not.
He instead turned to blame left-wing groups and Antifa and also said “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” To whom some violent Proud Boys members responded by adopting ‘Stand Back and Stand By” as a new motto.
Trump dodged the issue of white supremacy by also stating Biden is afraid to adopt moderately central ideas because of the differences in the left wing’s moderates and what Trump perceives as more far-left beliefs. A tactic he used four years ago with Hilary Clinton.
Biden responded by saying “Antifa is an idea, not an organization. That is what [President Trump’s] FBI director said.”
4. Candidates Attempting To Articulate Where They Stand With Law Enforcement
In response to Trump’s claim that all law-enforcement support him, Biden said he too supports the police. Both candidates had a hard time addressing the issue of police brutality or racism because it turned into an argument of left versus right when Trump said “most of the problems I keep seeing are from the left,” and accused Biden of calling Black Americans “super-predators,” a term fact-checkers have since addressed as misleading. While Biden has admitted his past crime bills were regrettable, moderators stated these “super-predators” while a very problematic term, were in reference to violent people committing crimes, a term which was actually said by Hilary Clinton in 1994.
The irony is that in the same breath, President Trump accused Biden of being both too weak and too harsh on crime. Additionally, in a brief mention of the issue of “Defund the Police,” to which both candidates claim to not support, Trump’s own budget plans would reduce police funding for things like body cameras.
Biden mentioned how under President Obama’s term, crime went down “15-17%” which then shot back up again during the Trump administration. According to FBI research violent crime has risen in both Democratic and Republican-led cities.
Biden mentioned in his discussion that when he becomes president, that he would make sure to get both law enforcement and civil rights leaders/activists to discuss systemic change and equal justice for all such as: reimagining some new ways of policing like having mental health professionals more involved for mental health and drug crisis.
One police officer tweeted in response to President Trump’s statement of the ‘Portland Sheriff supports me.” Sheriff Mike Reese of Multnomah County, a county in Oregon, tweeted he does not support President Trump.
5. Biden Talking Straight To The American People
One thing that seemed to be well-received from the former Vice President were the intimate moments Biden spoke directly to the camera.
Biden looked deeply hurt, when President Trump hurled low-blow insults about Biden’s sons, especially when defending his son, Hunter, from his recovery from a drug problem. Biden also defended his late son Beau, a war veteran who died of brain cancer in 2015. In response to Trump’s attacks, Biden said his son “…was not a loser. He was a patriot and the people left behind there were heroes,” in response to Trump saying soldiers who don’t come back from war are losers.
Biden addressed American families directly throughout the debate when discussing affordable healthcare, no to higher taxes, and safety for suburban homes, a strategy he continually used to go around Trump’s insinuations. Meanwhile, Trump accused Biden of being a socialist on healthcare, which is since proven not true, since Biden’s plan would provide an option for a government-run public healthcare plan on the Affordable Care Act but would not eliminate the private insurance. Eliminating the Affordable Care Act could strip 20 million people of health insurance.
Many people took to Twitter comparing Joe Biden’s camera glances to Jim Halpert in The Office.
6. Questions Biden And Trump Did NOT Answer
For starters when asked, Biden didn’t clearly state whether or not he would support expanding the Supreme Court.
Trump also failed to address his tax returns. In a recent New York Times article, it was reported that Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017. The President claimed he paid “millions,” but did not give specifics or state when he would release his tax returns to prove otherwise.
In between talking over each other, neither candidate gave a specific plan on how to properly reopen the country during the pandemic.
Trump stated that Dr. Fauci said Trump did a great job in saving lives in the pandemic. Biden rebutted by stating President Trump was irresponsible in handling the pandemic citing Trump was holding rallies with large crowds and no social distancing. Trump responded saying that Biden could never hold a rally like that because no one would show up to support him.
Trump also referred to COVID as the “Chinese plague,” and the fault of China.
Trump said divorce, alcoholism, and depression is up in households but did not provide statistics or the means of how to address the pandemic in order to address the issues that have arisen from quarantines. Nevertheless, the President did say “I’m the one who brought back football!”
Both candidates briefly discussed reopening the country and the COVID vaccine. Biden said he’d want to reopen with enough money and PPE for businesses and schools in order to “give them the wherewithal” to reopen safely. Moderator Chris Wallace asked if Biden’s plans for COVID relief and the economy would raise taxes and Biden answered that his plan would create 7 million more jobs in one year and more than 1 trillion in economic growth.
Trump also did not give a coherent answer on how he would accept a loss to the election.
Even when Wallace asked both candidates if they would promise to not claim victory until the official results are out and promised to keep their supporters in check from not wreaking any havoc, the President did not directly answer this question and instead stated he would not take it if he felt the election was fraudulent.
After the debate, Biden is winning in public polling nationally and even in some swing states. Six in 10 people believe Biden won the debate and only 28% believe Trump did well. Viewers were overwhelmingly bipartisan and many are registered as independents. Many of them state that the debate should have been handled better. However, about 2/3 of viewers trusted Biden more, believed he was telling the truth, and believed his attacks on President Trump were fair.
Overall, the public did not seem to be overwhelmingly swayed in who they were already voting for after this debate. There was a general feeling of disappointment from this debate and it’s productivity with criticisms of both candidates. Time will tell with the upcoming debates how the candidates may do either better or worse.