CLEVELAND — President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden took the stage Tuesday night for their first presidential debate in Cleveland, Ohio.
Here are five key moments from the often chaotic event, which was moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace:
One of several heated exchanges of the night occurred when Wallace asked Biden if he supports ending the Senate filibuster or adding more justices to the Supreme Court.
“Whatever position I take on that, that’ll become the issue,” Biden replied. “The issue is the American people should speak. You should go out and vote. You’re voting now. Vote and let your senators know strongly how you feel.”
But Trump repeatedly cut in as Biden was speaking.
“Are you going to pack the court?” Trump asked, later adding, “He doesn’t want to answer the question.”
“I’m not going to answer the question,” Biden said.
“Why wouldn’t you answer that question?” Trump replied. “You want to put a lot of new Supreme Court justices. Radical left.”
“Will you shut up, man? ... This is so unpresidential,” Biden fired back.
After noting that Trump has slammed Biden “for not specifically calling out antifa and other left-wing extremist groups,” Wallace asked the president whether he would condemn white supremacist groups and tell them to “stand down.”
“Sure, I’m willing to do that, but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,” Trump said. “I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.”
“Well, do it, sir,” Wallace replied, as Biden interjected, “Say it. Do it. Say it.”
“What do you want to call them?” Trump asked. “Give me a name. Give me a name. Go ahead. Who do you want me to condemn?”
“White supremacists and white militia,” Wallace said, while Biden offered the far-right Proud Boys as an example.
“OK, Proud Boys: Stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “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.”
When asked about a recent New York Times report that Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, the president claimed that he actually paid “millions of dollars” in taxes.
“Show us your tax returns,” Biden repeatedly interjected, to which Trump responded, “You’ll see it as soon as it’s finished. You’ll see it.”
Trump later added: “Chris, let me just say something, that it was the tax laws. I don’t want to pay tax. Before I came here, I was a private developer. I was a private business [person]. Like every other private person, unless they’re stupid, they go through the laws, and that’s what it is.”
“Look, the tax code that put him in a position that he pays less tax than on the money a schoolteacher makes is because of him,” Biden replied. “He says he’s smart because he can take advantage of the tax code, and he does take advantage of the tax code. That’s why I’m going to eliminate the Trump tax cuts.”
The candidates weren’t the only ones offering up zingers Tuesday night.
After the debate again devolved into crosstalk, a visibly frustrated Wallace tried to rein in Trump and Biden.
“Stop!” Wallace said. “Gentlemen, I hate to raise my voice, but why should I be any different than the two of you?”
He then clarified the debate format, telling Trump that he would have two uninterrupted minutes to say whatever he wants.
“I think that the country would be better served if we allowed both people to speak with fewer interruptions,” Wallace added. “I’m appealing to you, sir, to do that.”
“Well, and him, too,” Trump replied, referring to Biden.
“Well, frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting than he has,” Wallace said.
As the candidates discussed the novel coronavirus, Biden blasted Trump’s response to the pandemic.
“He still hasn’t even acknowledged that he knew this was happening, knew how dangerous it was going to be back in February, and he didn’t even tell you,” Biden said. “He’s on record as saying it. He panicked or he just looked at the stock market, one of the two. Because guess what? A lot of people died, and a lot more are going to die unless he gets a lot smarter, a lot quicker.”
“Did you use the word ‘smart’?” Trump shot back. “So you said you went to Delaware State, but you forgot the name of your college. You didn’t go to Delaware State. You graduated either the lowest or almost the lowest in your class. Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me. Don’t ever use that word.”
“Give me a break,” Biden replied.
“Because you know what?” Trump added. “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe. Forty-seven years, you’ve done nothing.”
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