US President Donald Trump and his Democrat challenger Joe Biden went head-to-head, on Tuesday, in the first Presidential debate before November’s elections.
The much-anticipated debate was marred by tense exchanges, with interruptions and insults dominating the event. Moderator Chris Wallace often struggled to get a word in during the stormy debate between the two candidates as they took turns aiming barbs at each other.
“We should wait, we should wait and see what the outcome of this election is,” said Biden, who was Vice-President under President Trump’s White House predecessor, Barack Obama.
Biden attacked Trump’s handling of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has left more than 200,000 Americans dead.
“He panicked, or he looked at the stock market,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s call to reopen the economy as he played down the threat of virus, before adding, “You’re the worst president America has ever had,”
The Democrat nominee also criticised Trump’s stance on the economy, saying that unemployment in the US is higher now than when the President entered the White House four years ago. He also accused Trump of failing to secure good trade deals, despite promising in his 2016 campaign to fix past agreements.
In response, Trump hit back at his rival, saying that his administration had done “a great job”. He added, “I tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job we’ve done. You don’t have it in your blood.”
Trump also accused Biden over his willingness to shut down the US economy again if coronavirus cases rise.
“He will shut it [the economy] down again, and he will destroy this country,” Trump said.
The president accused the Democrats of seeking to keep the economy shut until the elections, in order to hurt his chances in the presidential race.
Trump and Biden also held a heated exchange over racial justice and unrest across the US, with the president accusing the Democrats for their alleged weakness on law and order.
Meanwhile, Biden accused the president of dog-whistling to white supremacist groups, saying, “This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division.”
Biden also acknowledged the presence of systemic injustice in the US, “in education and work and in law enforcement, and the way in which it is enforced”.
Trump refused to condemn far-right militia groups, including the group mentioned by the moderator known as Proud Boys.
“Proud Boys, stand back, stand by, but I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem,” Trump said.