The president interrupted Democratic nominee Joe Biden throughout their entire debate, but important differences on everything from COVID to the economy were clear.
The first presidential debate was 90 minutes of near constant chaos, thanks to President Donald Trump repeatedly interrupting and talking over Democratic nominee Joe Biden, in what seemed like an utter disregard for the typical debate format.
Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News frequently lost control of the discussion. At one point, Wallace pleaded with Trump to allow Biden to finish his statement without interruption.
“The country would be better served if we allow both people to speak with fewer interruptions,” Wallace said during the debate. “I’m appealing to you to do that.”
Despite the unending interruptions, there were exchanges that revealed how the candidates differ significantly on important issues facing the United States. One such topic was COVID-19 and economic recovery.
“[Trump] has been totally irresponsible in the way he has handled the social distancing, the people wearing masks– basically encouraging them not to,” Biden said. “He’s a fool on this.”
Biden went on to criticize Trump for continuing to hold crowded gatherings at his rallies with few efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He then cited a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that estimated proper mask use could potentially save 100,000 lives.
“Masks make a big difference,” Biden said.
The two candidates also touched on the health of the economy. Trump claimed that the United States is seeing record business in the face of the pandemic and said that if Biden is elected he would close down the country entirely.
“He will shut it down again,” Trump said. “He will destroy this country.”
Biden said the mega rich in the United States have profited off the coronavirus pandemic. According to Reuters, the wealth of billionaires increased in the weeks after the lockdowns began. He also criticized Trump’s dealings with China.
“Take a look at what he’s actually done. He’s done very little,” Biden said. “He talks about the art of the deal– China perfected the art of the steal. We have a higher deficit now with China that we did before.”
The candidates also discussed the Supreme Court, which has been thrown into the campaign after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away in mid-September.
Trump said that because he won the election in 2016, he has the authority to appoint judges and justices as he sees fit. He claimed that his nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, has been endorsed by “lots of liberal people” and that he has plenty of time to get his nominee through the confirmation process.
The country is 34 days away from the general election and according to the Congressional Research Service, the average number of days it has taken to appoint a new justice to the Supreme Court is 67.
Biden argued that picking a new justice should wait until after the election so the American people have a say in who is appointed. He noted that the court could make major changes to things like women’s rights and healthcare in the coming year, which could have a major impact on how many individuals have access to health insurance. That is especially important as the country continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden and Trump will meet to debate two more times before the election. On October 15 the two will travel to Miami, Florida for a town hall-style debate with undecided voters.