First Presidential Debate of 2020 Starts with Controversial Topics


Adam Schultz

Photo from Flickr

“This type of debate shouldn’t happen in a democracy.” – Rachel Maddox

For students who missed the first 2020 presidential debate–whether because of work, homework, or technological limitations–here’s a recap of the night.

Sept. 29 at 9 p.m., at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, the presidential candidates Donald Trump (Republican candidate), and Joe Biden (Democratic candidate) participated in the first presidential debate of 2020. The moderator, Chris Wallace from Fox News Sunday, created six topics, 15 minutes each, in which the candidates each got two minutes of uninterrupted speaking time to get their points across, then 10 minutes of open debate and discussion. The topics included, Trump and Biden Records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election.

The topic that started the debate off was The Supreme Court. Trump spoke first on the topic and answered Wallace’s question about Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, answering why she should get the empty seat in the Supreme Court. Trump was also questioned about where Barrett would take the Supreme Court in upcoming years. 

“I will tell you very simply we won the election. Elections have consequences. We have the Senate, we have the White House and we have a phenomenal nominee respected by all; top, top academic. Good in every way. Good in every way,” Trump said. 

The second topic up for debate was COVID-19. There have been over 7 million cases and 200,000 deaths in the United States alone. Trump called out Biden for wearing a mask too much  and claimed that a vaccine was coming in a few weeks.

“Every time you see him he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away … and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen,” Trump said. 

 Biden told Trump that he was irresponsible for reopening the country so soon and holding large campaign rallies during a pandemic. 

“I laid out back in March exactly what we should be doing. And I laid out again in July what we should be doing. We should be providing all the protective gear possible. We should be providing the money the House has passed in order to be able to go out and get people the help they need to keep their businesses open. Open schools, it costs a lot of money,” Biden said.

The third topic during the debate was the economy. Trump said he has paid millions of dollars in federal taxes and that Biden would ruin this country. Biden said that Trump was handed a booming economy and blew it. Trump changed the direction of the conversation when he talked about Biden’s son receiving money from Moscow, and how he has created more jobs than Obama had in his first three years of office. 

Before COVID came in — the greatest economy in history, the lowest unemployment numbers. Everything was good. There was unity going to happen,” Trump said. 

The fourth topic that Wallace introduced was race and violence in cities. Trump blamed the left wing for issues concerning racial injustice while Biden said the country has become more divided under Trump’s presidency. Trump disagrees, saying he has done more for African Americans than has been ever before. Biden’s goal is to create an accountability system for police officers, and he honored George Floyd.

“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and groups to say they need to stand down and not add to the violence and number of the cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?” Wallace said, directing his question at Trump. 

“Proud boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said.

The fifth topic presented was Trump and Biden records.  Wallace asked Trump and Biden why voters should elect them instead of the other. Trump responded to this by stating he has done more than any president has in the span of three and a half years. Biden talked about uniting the nation rather than dividing it. 

“Under this president we become weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided and more violent,” Biden said. 

The last topic was the integrity of the election. Trump believes that the ballots are a disaster and the unsolicited ballots are a fraud. Trump urged his followers to go and watch people voting. Biden told his followers that they should continue to vote and the mail in ballots are good because of COVID- 19. He tells the nation that Trump cannot stop them from voting. Biden says he and President Trump will have to accept the outcome once votes are counted. 

“I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it,” Trump said. “I hope it’s going to be a fair election. … But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that,” said Trump. 

Biden said, “The fact is, there are going to be millions of people because of COVID that are going to be voting by mail-in ballots like he does.” 

Wallace finishes off the debate by thanking Cleveland for hosting them, describing the night as an interesting hour and a half.

Oct 7. at 9 p.m. Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris will debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.