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The 2020 US UN-Presidential Debate

Kriti Soneja and Tanishaa Vikas Jain

"Will you shut up, man? This is so unpresidential,” said an enraged Biden to Trump, and the rest of the world to the two candidates, during the 2020 US Presidential Debate. Post the debate on September 29, there is more talk on the candidates’ conduct than there is talk about their policies. The first of the three debates with President Donald J. Trump and his democratic opposition, former Vice President Joe Biden, reeked of petty insults and factual inaccuracies.

The debate was divided into six 15-minute segments. In one crucial segment on Covid-19 and COVID management, Biden called Trump “totally irresponsible” on the measures he had taken regarding the pandemic. Biden also raised concerns about the veracity of the President’s statements on the vaccine. In the past, Trump has made some controversial comments on the virus, mask-wearing, and Wuhan’s involvement. During the debate, he mocked Biden for wearing a mask. Ironically enough, a day after the debate, Trump announced that he had tested positive for the virus.

Debate moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News, asked Trump if he is willing to condemn white supremacist and militia groups and Joe Biden mentioned the ‘Proud Boys’, a far-right, violent, anti-immigrant group. To this, the President replied, “Proud Boys- stand back and stand by.” This comment was perceived as in support of white supremacists and heavily criticised by the American public. However, the next day, Trump claimed to not know anything about the group. "This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division," Biden said.

Trump extolled his administration for building “the greatest economy in history”. Although the economy was derailed due to the pandemic, it has shown signs of significant recovery throughout the country, he said. Biden, meanwhile, claimed that the President has “done very little” on the economic front. The country saw record low unemployment before COVID.

Trump unapologetically said that he has used tax loopholes and benefits to reduce his tax liability. “Millionaires” and “billionaires” like Trump have done very well during the pandemic, Biden said. He added that his administration would “eliminate Trump tax cuts”.

The US elections impact 7 billion people. Trump felt the need to outperform Biden in the debate as his democratic contender not only stands ahead of him in national polls but is also drawing in white voters from the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. His bickering, constant interruptions, and distasteful personal insults did quite the opposite. Biden, too, failed to make much of a mark.

To ensure decorum in the following debates, the US debates commission says that an additional structure will be added to the format “to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.”

Edited by Uzair Firdausi and Karmistha Bhimwal