By Carly Herbert | News Editor
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden take the stage for their first presidential debate. Photo from Carly Herbert
Last night, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off head to head in Cleveland, OH for the first of three presidential debates. The debate was moderated by Fox News Anchor, Chris Wallace, who spent most of the night getting talked over and interrupted by the two passionate candidates.
The topics of the night included filling the open Supreme Court seat, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in U.S. cities, and the integrity of the election.
Right off the bat, the debate began with the topic of what should become of the empty seat in the Supreme Court following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing earlier in the month. Since her death, Republicans and Democrats have been going back and forth about whether to fill the vacancy before or after the election with Republicans leaning towards before and Democrats leaning toward after. Earlier in the week, Trump announced his nominee for the seat as Amy Coney Barrett.
“We won the election, we have the right to do it,” said Trump during Tuesday night’s debate, arguing that he has the power to nominate a new justice while still in office.
Biden disagreed, arguing that “we should wait, we should wait and see what the outcome of this election is.”
Trump refused to address any discussion over the concerns of a rumored repeal of the 1973 Supreme Court Case, Roe v. Wade, that affirmed women’s the right to an abortion.
“There’s nothing happening there,” claimed Trump before diving into the next topic.
Moving along, just this week Trump’s tax returns from 2016 and 2017 made their way into headlines after a major New York Times investigation revealed he had only paid $750 in federal income taxes. Biden was quick to pull this into the spotlight of the debate.
“He says he’s smart because he can take advantage of the tax cuts,” said Biden. Trump quickly jumped in by saying he has paid “millions” in federal income taxes and that “you’ll see them as soon as it’s finished.”
Biden continued to say that he would get rid of the tax laws that Trump implemented during his presidency that favor business-friendly tax cuts.
“You want to eliminate my taxes, half of these companies will leave,” said Trump.
Biden countered saying that he plans on “creating one trillion dollars in economic growth,” but as things became more heated, Wallace moved them along to the next topic.
Things only intensified when the topic of COVID-19 was brought into play.
Biden came at Trump throwing out statistics regarding the current state of the pandemic. “We [the U.S.] make up 4% of the world’s population and we make up 20% of the deaths, between 750 and 1,000 people are dying each day,” stated Biden. “Get out of the bunker, get your head out of the sandbox,” said Biden, ploying the president to explain what his plan to continue dealing with COVID is.
“We are week away from a vaccine,” claimed Trump. “Fewer people are dying, the only reason we are doing a bad job is because you are getting fake news.”
While Biden urges for the country to take more time going into the re-opening process, Trump is continuing to insist that it should reopen, especially during campaign rally season.
When asked why he continues to host large crowds together for his campaign rallies, Trump stated, “People want to hear what I have to say...we have had no negative effect [from the rallies].”
Biden fired back, facing the camera and looking directly toward the American viewers watching at home stating, “He’s basically encouraging them not to wear masks at these rallies.” In which Trump replied by pulling a mask out of his jacket pocket to prove that he does support wearing them.
Moving forward to the next highlight of the night, Wallace addresses the topic of race and violence in America.
During this time, Wallace is able to grab ahold of the candidate’s attention for a few moments to direct a question to President Trump, asking him to publicly denounce white supremacy on national television where all of America can hear him.
Trump dodged a clear response to this question by counter-questioning Wallace, asking him to name which groups he needs to denounce. “Almost everything I see is from the left-wing,” said Trump. “Not from the right-wing.”
“Proud Boys - stand back and stand by,” continued Trump referencing the group identified by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as a hate group, before passing the question off to Biden and his plans for law and order in the country.
“What he keeps trying to do is rile everything up,” said Biden. “He doesn’t want to calm things down...what’s he do? He just pours gasoline on the fire!”
“There’s a systematic injustice in this country in education and work and in law enforcement and the way in which it is enforced,” stated Biden. “This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred and division.”
Climate change came into question as one of the last topics of the night. Trump made multiple claims about the wildfires currently ravaging the West Coast, California especially. Trump blamed these fires on poor management of the environment and forests, arguing that California shouldn’t be having the same issues with wildfires every year.
While Trump makes claims for rolling back fuel-efficiency standards while Biden plans to join with other countries to establish environmental standards.
“The first thing I’ll do is rejoin the Paris Climate Accord,” said Biden, going into this plan to create “millions” of jobs and convert to using cleaner energy.
Closing out the night strong, the two debated on the topic of election integrity. This year with the pandemic, mail-in and absentee ballots have been heavily argued for their reliability.
“You will determine the outcome of this election,” said Biden, encouraging the American people to make their voices heard. “Vote, vote, vote. If you’re able to vote early in your state, vote early. If you’re able to vote in person, vote in person - whatever way is the best way for you. Because he cannot stop you from being able to determine the outcome of this election.”
Biden endorsed mail-in voting while Trump encouraged his voters to head to the polls directly. Voting has already started in many states across the country and election season has truly begun. The next presidential debates will be held on Sep. 29 and Oct. 22, with live-streaming options available on multiple platforms including YouTube.