President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden exchange words in the first presidential debate of the US election.
Trump accused Biden of being a leftist and promoting socialism. Biden openly called Trump a racist and told him to “shut up” as Trump repeatedly tried to goad Biden with interruptions.
Trump recast many of his lines from the stump speech he has been giving at the airport rallies he has been holding in competitive states.
Many times Trump converted moderator Chris Wallace’s attempts to focus on policy issues into personal attacks on Biden, bringing up his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings with China and alleging he took funding from the wife of the Mayor of Moscow, all claims repeatedly on the campaign trail.
Former vice president Biden projected an open disdain towards Trump, turning away from the president, calling him “a clown” and addressing viewers directly, saying the president is a “liar” and a “racist”.
Biden rejected Trump’s accusations about his son as “untrue”, but the barrage forced him to acknowledge his son’s troubles in life. “My son, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem. He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it, and I’m proud of him,” Biden said, looking not at Trump but directly into the camera.
Wallace struggled at times to keep the debate on track, repeatedly reminding Trump that his campaign had agreed to terms of the debate that gave each candidate time to state their views without interruption.
Given an opportunity to condemn white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys, Trump equivocated. He stumbled in his answer on global warming. And he was self-congratulatory about his response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans.
Biden leads Trump in national polls by a significant margin and he leads or is competitive with Trump in key battleground states needed to win the decisive US Electoral College.
Nationwide, Biden led Trump by 10 percentage points among likely voters in an ABC News/Washington Post survey released on September 27.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on September 23 also showed Biden with a 10-point lead over Trump, consistent with earlier polls in August.