Saturday, October 24, 2020 | ePaper

Trump, Biden battle in `ugly` first US election debate

  • Print

President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden traded personal insults in the first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Al Jazeera :
President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden engaged in a heated and at times ugly exchange of words in the first presidential debate of the US election.
President Trump accused Biden of being a leftist and promoting socialism. Biden openly called Trump a racist and told him to "shut up" as Trump repeatedly tried to goad Biden with interruptions.
The debate did little to illuminate the policy choices facing Americans in the election and probably did not shift the dynamic of a race in which the incumbent, Trump, is fighting from behind.
"It was awful. It was hardly a debate. What we saw was Trump being Trump which was out of control most of the time," said Paul Beck, a political science professor at Ohio State University.
Trump recast many of his lines from the stump speech he has been giving at the airport rallies he has been holding in competitive states. "What we have heard from Trump" were the same attack lines against Biden "repeated over and over again tonight," Beck said.
The signal it sends is Trump "thinks he is behind and he is clearly doubling down on the things he thinks will attack and undermine Biden," Beck said.
Former vice president Biden projected an open disdain towards Trump, turning away from the president, calling him "a clown" and addressing viewers directly, saying the president is a "liar" and a "racist".
Instead of changing the narrative of the campaign "what happened tonight turned it into a referendum on Trump," which is a losing proposition for the president, Beck said.
At several points, Trump converted moderator Chris Wallace's attempts to focus on policy issues into personal attacks on Biden, bringing up his son Hunter Biden's business dealings with China and alleging he took funding from the wife of the Mayor of Moscow - all claims he has made repeatedly on the campaign trail.
Biden rejected Trump's accusations about his son as "untrue", but the barrage forced him to acknowledge his son's troubles in life.  "My son, like a lot of people you know at home, had a drug problem. He's overtaken it. He's fixed it. He's worked on it, and I'm proud of him," Biden said, looking not at Trump but directly into the camera.
"Trump demonstrated once again his ability to be an exponential version of himself," said James Henson, a political science professor and pollster at the University of Texas.
"It is hard to imagine that performance persuaded anyone," Henson said.
In an effort to "throw Biden off his game", Trump was "disruptive beyond any precedent we have seen in a presidential debate," Henson said.
Wallace struggled at times to keep the debate on track, repeatedly reminding Trump that his campaign had agreed to terms of the debate that gave each candidate time to state their views without interruption.
Al Jazeera debate analyst Alan Schroeder said the debate was not one "either candidate particularly wanted - nothing to feature in the presidential library".
"Biden's mission was to protect his lead, which he did. Trump's mission was to move the needle, which he did not," Schroeder said.
"The bottom line is that the first debate, to no one's surprise, changed nothing. And that's good news for Biden," he said. Given an opportunity to condemn white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys, Trump equivocated. He stumbled in his answer on global warming. And he was self-congratulatory about his response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans.
Biden leads Trump in national polls by a significant margin and he leads or is competitive with Trump in key battleground states needed to win the decisive US Electoral College.
Nationwide, Biden led Trump by 10 percentage points among likely voters in an ABC News/Washington Post survey released on September 27.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on September 23 also showed Biden with a 10-point lead over Trump, consistent with earlier polls in August.
Prior to the debate, analysts expected Trump to go on the attack.
Typically in American politics, incumbent presidents come into the debates leading their challenger "and try not to do anything to upset the trajectory of the race", said Robert Yoon, a lecturer in politics and journalism at the University of Michigan.
This year, that dynamic was reversed with Biden in the lead and Trump having to do something to reshape the contest. Yoon expected Trump to "play the role of aggressor".
"Trump clearly had a strategy to show he is a fighter and was not going to let attacks on him go unchallenged," Yoon said.
But, "I didn't really feel his debate performance did anything to win over undecided people … like suburban women," Yoon said.
Biden at times tried to ignore Trump and speak directly to voters, Yoon said. Biden's goal was to demonstrate he is not low energy and also avoid losing his temper. He was only partially successful.
"He did get flustered early and told Trump to shut up," Yoon observed.
Overall, Yoon called it a "low point in American politics".
"It was a debate in name, but it was a disservice to the voters who were watching," he said.

More News For this Category

Audit of government universities urged but to what purpose?

All across the world, university education is seen as the key to a better future, providing the essential tools that people need to sustain their livelihoods, live with dignity

$500 million WB loan sought for vaccine procurement

$500 million WB loan sought for vaccine procurement

Bangladesh has sought U$500 million loan from the World Bank for procurement of Covid-19 vaccine.The funds will be used for procurement, preservation, transportation and distribution of vaccines, according to the

China terms US remarks on its role over Rohingya issue 'inappropriate'

The Chinese Embassy in Dhaka has reacted to the US claim that China has done very little to resolve the Rohingya issue, terming it "inappropriate and not constructive at all".The

Monipur School's guardians demand tuition fee cut

Monipur School's guardians demand tuition fee cut

Staff Reporter :A group of guardians and students of Monipur High School and College have staged a demonstration demanding the reduction of tuition and examination fees.The rally was held in

PK Halder is not returning to Bangladesh now as he falls ill: Lawyers

PK Halder is not returning to Bangladesh now as he falls ill: Lawyers

Proshanta Kumar Halder, who had spoken of his desire to return to Bangladesh amid allegations of having assets beyond means worth Tk 3 billion, has had a change of heart.

Differently abled child violated in Noakhali

Our Correspondent :A differently abled child has been raped allegedly by an 18-year-old in Chatkhil upazila of Noakhali.The victim's mother filed a case under Women and Children Repression Prevention Act

Myanmar vote ban extinguishes hope for ethnic minorities

AFP, Yangon :For many marginalised ethnic minority groups in conflict-plagued regions of Myanmar, next month's national elections had at least offered a glimmer of hope for empowerment.But a decision to

Speedboat capsize 5 bodies recovered in Patuakhali

Our Correspondent  :Coast Guard personnel on Saturday recovered bodies of five people who went missing after a speedboat capsized in the Agunmukha River in Patuakhali on Thursday amid inclement weather.The

Woman pregnant after rape in Bagerhat

Our Correspondent :A woman who was raped on several occasions in Rampal upazila of Bagerhat is currently in the eighth month of her pregnancy.The victim filed a case under the

Constable Harun placed on 5-day remand

Sylhet Bureau :Suspended constable Harunur Rashid of Bandarbazar police outpost in Sylhet has been placed on a five-day remand in a case filed over the death of Raihan Ahmed in