The First Presidential Debate was a Verbal Wrestling Match

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Garrett Duncan, Contributor

On Sept. 30 in Cleveland, Ohio, President Donald Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden had their first presidential debate.  The debate was about 1 hour and 30 minutes long, and went from 9 p.m. to around 10:30 p.m.

Fox News anchor Wallace moderated, asking both candidates questions about current events for this year.  Both candidates had to answer the questions, and they usually argued when answering.  Sometimes one of them would interrupt the other, but this was only allowed for certain questions.

Chris Wallace jumped in to stop them at times when one of the candidates  were interrupting the other or not allowing them to answer a question.

During the debate they talked about many different topics, but there were three issues that appeared to be the most important and are most applicable to our lives: The issue of Amy Coney Barrett and how soon she was nominated after Ruth Bater Ginsberg’s death; what each candidate will do to take care of extremist groups and stop riots; and the issue of climate change and creating new energy sources.

 

Amy Coney Barrett and Choosing a New Supreme Court Justice.

The first question was (for Trump): Why do you think that you need to choose a new Supreme court justice, and in what direction will Amy Coney Barrett take the Court?  And (for Biden): Why do you think he should not be allowed to elect a new Supreme Court Justice, and where do you think Amy Coney Barrett will take the Supreme Court?

Trump went first and he argued that he should be able to elect a new justice because he is the president and it is his right as the person elected.  He went on to talk about how he thinks Barrett is a great pick calling her “good in every way” and saying that she is actually very moderate in terms of supporters.

After that, he reiterated that he was elected and can therefore pick somebody and said that Democrats would do the same thing he is doing if they were in his place saying it, “definitely would happen in reverse.”

Joe Biden retorted by saying that Trump should not be able to choose a justice because the election had already started, citing that about 10,000 ballots had already been sent in by mail-in and absentee voters.  He stressed that because Trump was in the race against him the people would be able to decide by their vote who they wanted to choose a new Justice.

He also stated that if Trump got a new Republican justice he would have a much easier time getting rid of the Affordable Care Act, and that this would hurt women’s rights because it would make it legal to charge a woman more for a surgery if she was pregnant during the surgery, which is prohibited by the act.

Biden then began to talk about Roe vs. Wade until it was shut down by Wallace. Wallace asked Trump about healthcare and how he will end Obamacare.  He asked what his plan was to replace Obamacare and called what he had done already, “mostly symbolic.”

Trump defended what he did and said that he had at least done better than Biden, citing his huge success in obtaining Insulin at a low price for America.

When he was done, Wallace asked Biden about his plan, and asked him about how much his plan would socialize healthcare.

Biden said his plan would not socialize healthcare at all, and would just help people who were too poor to afford private Medicare.  He said this was not socialist because it would still allow private options for those who could afford them.

Trump interrupted Biden and they began arguing about socialized healthcare with Trump saying Biden supported it with Biden denying any support, and eventually Biden started ignoring Trump while he spoke to the crowd telling them to vote.

It ended soon after with Wallace changing to the questions on COVID-19.

 

Extremist Groups, Riots, and Defunding the Police

After arguments over race relations, Wallace brought up the topic of the riots sweeping the nation, and asked Biden what he means when he talks about a re-imagining of the police, and if he supports the Black Lives Matter call for more community control of the police.  Biden said that he, “totally opposed” the defunding of police, and then turned it around on Trump saying that he is the one whose policies would cut local police budgets.

He then spoke on how he believes there needs to be funding for police to have physiatrists to help them manage stress and more training on use of force and how to de-escalate situations.

He specifically spoke on community policing, meaning policing where the police know the people who they are serving.

At one point Trump asked Biden to name one law enforcement group that supported him over Trump, and Biden refused his request, saying, “We don’t have time.”

Trump quickly cut him off saying that, “He’s talking about defunding the police.”  Trump pointed out that many police unions have renounced support of Biden because they believe that he will defund them, and talked about how defunding police does not help them become more accountable for what they do.

After that, Wallace began to talk about rioting especially in Portland, and he asked Biden if he had ever contacted the Mayor of Portland to tell him to stop the riots and Biden said he could not do anything about the riots because, “I don’t hold public office now, I am a former Vice-President.”  This contradicted a statement he made earlier when he said, “I am The Democratic Party”.

Wallace continued to press him and Biden said that it was Trump’s fault for trying to stop the rioters saying that if he stayed out of the way the state would handle it.

At one point Biden blamed Trump for the riots, saying that Trump wants riots because they help his cause.  Biden then continued to say that Trump wanted more riots and that’s why he kept trying to arrest rioters.

Trump interjected in the conversation multiple times.  Once he did it to say that riots didn’t help him, but was silenced when Biden pointed out that Trump’s former spokesperson said the same thing.

The second time was when Biden said that the riots were Trump’s fault and Trump got angry saying it was all the left who were rioting and launched into a story.  He began to talk about Aaron Danielson, a member of Patriot Prayer who was shot in Portland by Michael Reinoehl.  Reinoel was caught and arrested for rioting with BLM activists twice before.  It is believed Danielson was killed because Patriot Prayer supports the Republican party.  This is why his killing made Trump so angry.  Trump said he wanted to end the riots before Wallace stopped him from saying any more.

The third time Trump broke into the conversation was to say that he believes if they sent in the National Guard the riots would stop very quickly.

When Biden’s turn was over, Wallace asked Trump if he would condemn far right-wing groups.  Trump said he would denounce them, but he thinks it’s the left that are doing the rioting.  When pressed by Wallace he asked what name he was to call them by, Biden said The Proud Boys, and Trump said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

He continued to say that Antifa is the real threat and maintained his position.  Biden said that Antifa is nothing but an idea, not an organization, despite them having their own flags, T-shirts, and requirements to join official groups available to the public. Biden began to wrap up the conversation, and at the end Trump refused to end the conversation because he wanted to talk about Biden’s ties to Ukraine, and Wallace would not allow him.

 

Addressing Climate Change and Changing How We Create Energy

The third important question was: What do you believe about climate change and what will you do about it?

Trump answered first and said that he wanted clean air and water, but he is not willing to destroy American businesses to stop all carbon emissions.  He said that the reason there are forest fires is because we don’t have good enough forest management, and we allow too much to collect and turn into tinder on our forest floors.

At that point Wallace cut in and reminded him about the first part of the question: what do you believe about the science of climate change?  Trump answered by saying that we need to make an effort to keep the air and water clean and pointed out a program he was doing that would plant one billion trees.

Wallace asked him if he thought that humans and pollution are causing climate change and Trump said that humans do contribute to it to an extent, but that wildfires are caused much more by bad management than changing climate. He backed up this argument by talking about Europe’s forest cities that have people living in and managing the forests.

These cities have almost no forest fires, despite the trees actually being of a species that has more flammable wood.

He then went on to defend his action of getting rid of Obama’s clean power plans saying it was, “driving energy prices through the sky.” After that, Trump spoke on why he relaxed fuel economy standards, and said that it was because he wanted to make cars cheaper so that new fuel efficient cars that actually polluted less could be sold for low prices, lowering pollution by making it easier to get a less polluting car.

Biden was then allowed to speak and he was asked to rebut Trump and explain his policies on fixing climate change (such as eliminating fracking entirely and get rid of every single greenhouse emission in America by 2030) and proving that they would not damage the economy. Biden said Trump is wrong to think it would be bad for the economy, and that he had in the past been able to make reusable energy as cheap as coal and oil power, and he would do it for all of America.

He said the first step would be changing the Federal Fleet of America to a fleet that uses only electricity, and build 500 charging stations for the fleet.  He also wanted to make sure that they could weatherize buildings so that they used that power and emitted less gases. He said that once they changed, the energy sector jobs would be created, and these jobs would have good pay.  He also stated he would re-join the Paris Accord,  an accord that limits gas power and incentivizes green energy.

Biden said this was needed because the world was falling apart, and that he would give, “significant economic consequences to any county that began tearing down their rainforests, effectively regulating every country on Earth.”

Wallace asked him how he would balance his environmental interests, and that Trump said that Biden would damage the economy at a press briefing.  Biden said that Trump was a liar and that his plan was much better than what Trump is doing. Biden also mentioned Trump was blowing his plan’s costs out of proportion and it would only cost $20 billion to do.

Biden denied this, saying that it was “just not true.”  Wallace pointed out that his plan included upgrading four million buildings, weatherizing two million homes, and building one and a half million homes that are energy efficient.  He agreed with Trump on the price and said that something of that magnitude would cost a lot of money.

Biden said that it would create millions of good jobs and it would be worth it, saying the plan would eventually pay for itself.

He said that now they pay too much money to fix damage for natural disasters and we need to fix our greenhouse problem now, pointing out that America makes up 15% of the worlds “problem.”

At one point, Trump interrupted and said that was a lie and a plan that big would have to cost $100 trillion, and that his plan would force buildings to be torn down and remodeled and then built back up during the weatherizing process.

When the segment was nearing its end, Trump continued to hit on how much it would cost until the talking devolved into jabs and insults.

Wallace asked Biden if he supported the Green New Deal, which used to be the Democrat’s plan to stop climate change, and he ended the segment by saying no, and that his new plan would not be as bad as the green new deal.

 

Sources:

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/questions-2020-presidential-debates

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/09/29/live-presidential-debate-updates-trump-and-joe-biden-square-off/3578155001/

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/biden-and-trumps-first-debate-did-not-end-well

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/09/29/us/presidential-debate-trump-biden

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/far-right-patriot-prayer-group-says-fatal-shooting-victim-portland-n1238867

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-09-29/trump-biden-first-presidential-debate-scorecard

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/03/us/michael-reinoehl-arrest-portland-shooting.html