Recap of first Presidential Debate between President Donald Trump and former VP Joe Biden


In a Tuesday night that was described as “chaotic” by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the first Presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was focused more on character and values, rather than policy and accomplishments. 

Going into the debate, polls predicted that President Trump would have the upper hand, but post-debate polls have painted a mixed message. According to a poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday night by Change Research in collaboration with CNBC, 53% of national voters considered to be “likely voters” said Biden performed better in the debate, compared with 29% who said Trump did better, and 18% who said neither won or it was a draw. According to the same poll, 45% of those surveyed claimed Trump performed “worse than expectations,” as compared to 11% claiming the same for the former VP. CNBC says that their polls convey that just 2% of those polled claimed that the debate changed their vote. Likewise, a CNN post-debate poll showed 60% said Biden won, while 28% said Trump won, and a CBS News poll showed that 48% said Biden won, while 41% Trump won. 

However, President Trump tweeted the contrary Thursday morning, saying, “I won the debate big, based on compilation of polls etc. Thank you!” According to a live CNN post-debate poll, only 2 of 12 respondents involved in the poll said Biden won the debate. A poll conducted by Breitbart reported that 87% of respondents said Trump won the debate, while an AL.com article claimed that of 369,000 respondents, 52% claimed Trump won the debate, while 48% claimed Biden won the debate. 

President Donald Trump began the debate with similar rhetoric and energy as that of the 2016 debates, but this tactic faced challenges as the night progressed (Fox News). This debate strategy involved Trump talking over Biden and interrupting him in almost every segment, which caused conflicts between Trump and moderator Chris Wallace. Wallace and Trump sparred on multiple occasions, as Trump accused Wallace of “debating him” and not allowing him to speak on certain subjects that Biden was allotted time for. According to Fox News, major Republican figures including Ted Cruz said the conflict between the President and the moderator was made worse because Wallace was asking deeper questions of Trump rather than Biden. According to Slate, the president interrupted Biden or Wallace a total of 128 times in the 90 minute debate. 

Trump spent much time examining Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, and Biden’s connections with progressive politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Occasio Cortes, and Elizabeth Warren. While this was the case, Biden continued to simply deny claims concerning Hunter Biden. He also distanced himself from progressive politicians, claiming he is “the Democratic Party right now.” Trump continued to support his nomination of supreme court justice nominee Amy Coney Barret, while Biden claimed that the nomination should wait until after the election. President Trump used President Barack Obama’s former line, “Elections have consequences,” when explaining why he should appoint as soon as possible. Biden, when questioned on whether he would endorse the packing of the supreme court in retaliation to Republicans appointing Barrett before the election, he did not give a clear answer. 

The main highlights came from the first half of the debate. The President touted law and order, and challenged Biden’s willingness to do the same. A little later in the debate, Trump, when directly asked if he would condemn white supremacy by Biden and Wallace, did not directly condemn white supremacists, instead saying “sure” he was willing to do so. When Biden mentioned “The Proud Boys,” Trump told the group to, “Stand back and stand by.” Trump then responded by taking the approach of condemning far left organizations such as ANTIFA. Throughout the debate, Joe Biden took shots at Trump calling him a “clown,” a “liar,” and telling him to “shut up man.” Trump also made claims of Biden not having attendees at his rallies, Biden not being smart, and claiming that he has, “done more in 47 months than (Biden) has done in 47 years.” 

Voters who were displeased with the debate spoke out online in different ways. During the debate, Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen’s website crashed from user overload. Not only that, but there has also been many talks of having podcast host Joe Rogan moderate one of the next two debates. The next presidential debate is slated for October 15th. 


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