The first Presidential Debate for the 2020 campaign cycle was Tuesday, September 29, featuring former Vice President Joe Biden and incumbent President Donald Trump. The debate topics include the Supreme Court nominee, COVID-19, healthcare, the economy, taxes, racial justice, law and
order, protests in Portland, climate change, and election integrity.
Both candidates challenged each other throughout the segments, interrupting and attacking their opponent’s personality, family,
and political history. While not much was covered in the way of policy, many of the “hot button” issues were exhausted. The candidates discussed the Coronavirus for over twenty minutes, each claiming the others’ practices would have resulted in more deaths.
When asked to discuss racial justice, both candidates skirted the issue, Biden saying “There’s systemic injustice in this country, in education and work and in law enforcement and the way in which it’s enforced. But look, the vast majority of police officers are good, decent, honorable men and women. They risk their lives every day to take care of us, but there are some bad apples. And when they occur, when they find them, they have to be sorted out. They have to be held accountable.”
Trump, when asked to condemn white supremacists and vigilante militia, told the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group, to “Stand back
and stand by.”. This statement was interpreted by the Proud Boys as a direct endorsement and encouragement to their group. Trump followed this declaration by condemning racial sensitivity and critical race theory as “racist”, when asked why his administration directed federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training this past month.
A poll following the debate determined that former VP Joe Biden may have gained a small amount of support, while Trump lost a small margin of supporters. However, it appears that most voters have already determined who they will vote for, and the debate made little impact either way. The general consensus, as quoted by Lisa Lerer of the New York Times, is that “There was a clear loser at last night’s debate: you. Yes, you, the American voter.”
Due to the disorienting amount of interruptions, the next Presidential Debates will likely include stricter moderation with the potential to turn off candidates’ microphones upon excessive interruptions.
The Presidential Debate was followed on Wednesday, Oct. 6, by the Vice Presidential Debate for the 2020 campaign cycle. This debate focused more on policy, discussing many of the same topics addressed in the Presidential Debate. Both candidates managed to act more professional than their Presidential counterparts, though vice presidential candidate Mike Pence continually interrupted Senator Kamala Harris.
Both candidates avoided some of the more challenging topics, including sidestepping a question about healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions and how each campaign will handle their administration should either aged Presidential candidate fall ill during their term. Additionally, Pence repeatedly argued with Harris on Biden’s campaign positions, including fracking, law and order, the Green New Deal, and COVID; Pence claiming Biden’s campaign supported issues Harris asserted were simply untrue.
For many viewers, this was the first time seeing the Vice Presidential candidates speak live and the debate gave many voters a better insight into each campaign and their positions.
Sources: Statista, Rev.com transcript, New York Times