After friendly greetings between the two nominees, mud was slung—a lot. What needed to be a civil debate between both candidates’ issues turned into a chaotic volley of personal attacks and interruptions. And though President Donald Trump commandeered much of the debate, he did not win it. Neither did former Vice President Joe Biden. The question of who lost in the debate, however, presented itself clearly: undecided American voters.
The Debate Begins
Throughout the night, Fox News anchor and moderator Chris Wallace brought up six main issues. The first was Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacancy. Here, Trump defended that his winning of the election and control of the Senate allowed him to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Biden, though, argued that the decision should go to the American people. This first part went well, with both candidates civilly discussing their contrasting views.
“The election has already started,” Biden said. “Tens of thousands of people have already voted. The thing that should happen is, we should wait. We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is.”
Two Loose Cannons
However, after that, the debate began to spiral out of control. While shifting the topic to healthcare, Trump accused the Democratic party of wanting “to go socialist medicine”, to which Mr. Biden rebutted. His rebuttal including the fact that he was “the face of the party”, and that any goals for healthcare would not be towards “socialist medicine”. Then, after reverting back to the issue of the Supreme Court, Trump began to interrupt Biden while the Democratic nominee responded to whether he would add additional justices if elected.
Ultimately, after being continuously interrupted, Biden shot back with the first shocking statement of the night: “Would you shut up, man?”
As the debate progressed, this tension increased. Usages of personal attacks and interruptions became more frequent. Biden himself would use personal attacks to refer to Trump as a “liar”, “clown”, “racist”, and “Putin’s puppy”. His personal attack of calling the president a “racist” became more apparent after the president refused to condemn white supremacist groups.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” said the president. One organizer of the group said later during the night that the president saying the remarks made them (the Proud Boys) “so happy.”
Meanwhile, the president would often use disruptions to his advantage, diverting the attention to himself instead. This, in turn, helped the president in preventing Biden getting his key issues out to voters, and often flustered the Democrat nominee.
The phrase “Mr. President, can you let him finish, sir,” was a statement reiterated by Wallace several times throughout the night and quickly became the theme of the evening.
The Debate Ends
Finally, after a fiery debate where no candidate fully carried out their points across for American voters, ending remarks were made. These remarks regarding whether each candidate would accept the results of the election. Trump’s ending remark stated that he was “counting” on the Supreme Court to “look at the ballots” to determine if any fraud would have taken place.
“I hope it’s going to be a fair election, if it’s a fair election, I’m 100% on board,” said the president. “But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”
Biden echoed a similar sentiment, although he did not show the same concern over mail-in balloting. A fear discredited by many officials time and again. Instead, the Democratic nominee took a more confident tone, assuring that he would embrace the results.
“Here’s the deal. The fact is I will accept it and he will too. You know why? Because once the winner is declared after all the ballots are counted—all the votes are counted—that’ll be the end of it.” said Biden. “And if it’s me, fine. And if it’s not me, I’ll support the outcome.”
Biden would later go on to voice how he would approach the presidency, though he would not be able to finish the statement after being interrupted by the president. A familiar scene that plagued the rest of the debate leading up to that point.
“[I’ll] not just be a president for the Democrats,” said Biden. “I’ll be a president for Democrats and Republicans.”
President Trump, on the other hand, concluded the night by telling voters what he expected from the election.