Biden and Trump Provide Inconclusive First Presidential Debate

With 35 days left until election day, Trump is likely to have gained slightly from the televised debate without active fact checking.

Rabat – US President Donald Trump did not deliver a significant blow to the campaign of Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The two faced off for the first time in the US’ contentious presidential race. 

With 35 days left until election day, Trump is likely to have gained slightly from the televised debate without active fact checking. Biden will get another chance to impress voters on October 15 and once more on October 22.

Trump came out strong against Biden. He stated that if Biden had been president during the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis would have led to two million coronavirus deaths. Trump pushed back against moderator Chris Wallace as he accused him of failing to overturn the Obama-era Affordable Healthcare law. 

When Biden was pushed on healthcare he emphasized he did not support “socialist” healthcare. Trump used healthcare to connect Biden to the platform of democratic-socialist primary candidate. Bernie Sanders. “You just lost the left” he stated as Biden disassociated himself with government run healthcare which large swaths of the Democratic base supports.


During the debate Joe Biden highlighted Trump’s leadership in the chaotic US response to COVID-19. “It happened because you are who you are,” Biden said as he pointed at Trump. Biden accused Trump of not yet having developed a proper response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Trump appeared to contradict Biden by imaging the death toll if Biden would have been president. Trump quoted his white house COVID-19 team saying Trump had saved lives and did a “phenomenal” job. Trump used the 2009 Swine Flu epidemic as evidence of Biden’s record during an epidemic.

Biden appealed to voters who had lost family members due to the crisis, but Trump interrupted him repeatedly. Trump stated that private conversations with Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies had told him a vaccine could be produced “much sooner.” Biden used the absence of a vaccine as a broken promise of Trump.

Trump’s handling of the crisis has become one of the main focuses of the campaign as 205,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus. “You would have shut down the country” Trump accused Biden but Biden effectively highlighted that Trump had suppressed information about the serious nature of COVID-19. “You didn’t tell us” he stated, highlighting the revelations from Bob Woodward’s book “Rage.” 


While discussing the economy, Biden highlighted Trump’s tax returns. Biden attacked Trump on his recently revealed tax returns. The documents revealed that Donald Trump had failed to pay any taxes for 10 out of the 15 years included in the fillings.

Trump shook off the accusations saying he paid “millions of dollars” in taxes. He said he is “under leveraged,” said he paid more than the New York Times had reported. Furthermore he justified his low tax contributions as evidence of his business skills.

Biden promised to “eliminate the Trump tax cuts.” He called Trump the “worst president” the country had ever had. Biden promised to return manufacturing to the US and slightly raise the corporate tax rate. “He blew it” Biden said when describing Trump’s economy.

The incumbent instead focused on Hunter Biden. Joe Biden’s surviving son has faced criticism over receiving high-paid jobs in several businesses where he lacked the apparent necessary expertise. Biden called Trump a “clown” for targeting his son.

Race and protests

Trump and Biden went head to head in regard to racism and their respective records. Trump used Biden’s past problematic statements. He did so while simultaneously claiming Biden was “wrapped around the finger” of Democratic mayors and governors, and in effect protesters.

Trump played on the fears of white suburban voters by stoking fears over property damage. He called racial sensitivity training “radical” and promoting “very sick ideas.” Biden repeatedly appealed to our common humanity in his storytelling. He presented himself as having  a blue-collar background and lamented Trump for using the phrase “law and order.”

Biden appeared to re-frame the threat posed to suburban voters as COVID-19 and its consequences for which he held Trump responsible.Trump pushed Biden on his apparent lack of support among police officers. 

Wallace asked Trump to disavow white extremists but Trump instead accused left wing activists of violence. Addressing the right-wing group “proud boys” he said to “stand down and stand by” before later calling for action against left-wing group antifa.

Biden in turn said Trump made the US weaker, poorer, more violent and more divided. Biden targeted Trump for alleged remarks calling soldiers “losers.” Biden highlighted his deceased son Beau’s military record but Trump attacked him over his other son, Hunter’s business dealings.


Both campaigns were busy setting expectations ahead of the debate. Trump has for months accused his opponent of suffering from dementia. In order to change expectations he alleged Biden was taking performance enhancing drugs or that he used an electronic device during the debate.

Trump’s gamble before the debate, painting Biden as a senile and inarticulate candidate appeared to backfire. Low expectations for Biden’s performance meant Democrats will likely hail his adequate performance as a win. 

Biden in the debate with Trump attempted to use storytelling and personal appeals to connect to voters. The chaotic nature of the debate made this difficult yet he remained calm under Trump’s bullying.

Trump’s strategy however appeared to be less about gaining new voters and more about depressing the Democratic voter turnout. He repeatedly highlighted topics where the party’s progressive wing disagrees strongly with Biden. Trump’s campaign team appears to be looking to demotivate left wing voters by highlighting Biden’s opposition to programs such as the Green New Deal and universal healthcare.

Read also: Biden Responds ‘Inshallah’ to Trump’s Vows to Deliver Tax Returns