A review of the first presidential debate


Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic

President Trump and nominee Biden faced off in Tuesday’s debate.

Kate Denning, Staff Reporter

I had very high hopes for the debate. By the time it was over, I wanted clear and concise messages from both parties. However, what I, and the American people, got instead was, as Ari Fleischer put it, “a food fight.” 

Personally, I believe all politicians have a way of spinning the truth in order to further their agendas. However, as someone who conducts outside research from both sides, it is in my opinion that staunch Democrats, and especially the media, create more division in general, but also create more division between fact and fiction. It is for that reason that, if I had to pick one, I would lean more right. So through this opinion piece, I will analyze both candidates “moves”, but look at it from a right-leaning stance.

Immediately, it seemed, moderator Chris Wallace jumped right into the issues that the American people wanted to hear about most. His first question was about the Supreme Court and the filling of the empty seat acclaimed Justice Ginsburg left behind. Trump answered first by saying what should be common sense: he is president, he was elected president by the people, and he will remain president for four–not three–years. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s sad passing happened to happen during his term, and it is in my opinion that Trump has the right to place a justice of his choosing in her seat. Biden followed by declaring that the people should elect the nominee to the justice position, as if his party didn’t attempt to do the same thing in 2016. During the previous election season, the Obama administration, after the death of Justice Scalia, attempted to place Merrick Garland in Scalia’s empty seat. It did not pass, however, but the notion still stands: what Trump is trying to do is not some unheard of thing. The President, whoever they may be, has a right to fill Supreme Court seats if they are empty during their term. 

The conversation then moved swiftly into the topic of healthcare, specifically private insurance and pre-existing conditions. This prompted Wallace to pose a question to Donald Trump about ObamaCare and his attempt to repeal the insurance. Wallace said that Trump hadn’t done what he promised to do to which the President responded, and hence not specifically answering the question, with his own policies: cutting drug prices and reforming the confusing and “disastrous” ObamaCare system. Biden’s chance to talk resulted in attacking the President for having no plan, which is something I disagree with. Trump did have a plan for dealing with ObamaCare. It just didn’t get passed through our government systems, however reforming the Health Insurance Mandate did.

While on the topic of insurance and healthcare, the conversation easily slid into discussions, and major disagreements, on the coronavirus. Both candidates said what America has been hearing since the beginning of quarantine: “Trump is bad, Trump made people die, it’s the Trump virus,” from Biden and, “You would’ve done worse, the China virus, I got ventilators,” from Trump. 

My question to every person arguing that Trump did a horrendous job with the coronavirus is what would you have done differently? When he closed the border, democrats called him a xenophobe and a racist, and said that he was making too big of a deal of the virus. Then, when he tried to open again, they got mad at him for that, contradicting what they had just said no more than two months prior. The economy was failing, suicide rates were piling, abuse was skyrocketing, and depression was at an all time high. There is no easy answer to dealing with the Coronavirus, but Trump did everything he could to stop the spread without endangering the lives of those who were suffering from mental and physical abuse. Trump provided many ventilators and received praise from Governor Cuomo of New York for it.  He also supplied New York with naval ships after news reached him that hospital beds were running out. Sadly, the ships sat empty in New York harbor. Now, all of the information I just relayed to you was not brought up in enough detail by the President. It hindered his case and it did not help set the record straight. Not bringing up the facts I just presented was a major missed opportunity.

Moving along, the economy was the next issue up for debate. Wallace asked what the opinions of both men were to which Trump did not answer directly. Biden, however, did not do much better. His answer was full of obvious flaws such as taking on Trump’s own slogan of “America First” and bringing back industry that Trump had already done, which would later contradict what he said when discussing climate change. Biden said he would raise taxes on companies and try to be more eco friendly. But doing so will drive companies out of America, not keep or bring them here. I myself would love to see more eco friendly policies, but I also would hate to see the economy crash and burn.

Following the economy, a question about Trump supposedly paying $750 in federal taxes in 2015-2016 was put forth by Wallace. Trump answered by saying it wasn’t true. Biden then pushed him to release the tax receipt to which Trump said he would shortly. Trump then stated that the previous administration put into action the tax code that he was lawfully entitled to. The point of all this is that he didn’t do anything illegal. If the tax law said that he only had to pay $750, then why would he pay more? 

Adding to the already tense atmosphere perpetuating the debate were the next topics: race, law and order and protesting. Trump condemned the rioting and the intense protesting that is expanding across the country. Biden, surprisingly and suspiciously, flipped away from what he and his party had been saying since George Floyd’s death in May and came out in superficial support of law enforcement, proclaiming that he had endorsements from many police organizations. However, he couldn’t name a single one. So how sure can one be of his loyalty to law enforcement? He has, after all, never come out and condemned the defunding of police and only condemned the rioting once after the polls showed his numbers were down. 

Additionally, in regard to the race issue, Biden should not be putting himself up on the moral platform that he seems to be doing. Yes, Trump has spoken out of turn and has been immature at times, but nothing he has ever said has been inherently racist. Biden on the other hand has demeaned Black Trump supporters by saying that they weren’t Black if they didn’t vote for him in an interview with a Black radio host based in New York, declared that he was afraid of his children growing up in racial jungles during a 1977 Senate Judiciary hearing and supposedly said that Black Americans preferred segregation when discussing the bussing issue that he was also called out for by his now running mate, Kamala Harris. But considering some of the actions of his party seem to be pitting white Americans versus Black Americans in a game of “Who Hates Who More?”, this isn’t hard to believe. 

Biden also avoided coming out and saying that he supported or didn’t support Black Lives Matter and called Antifa “just an idea”, when there is proof that it is a concrete organization. Trump, on the contrary, easily condemned white supremacy when asked by Wallace about his opinion on the matter. 

To finish the evening out, Trump and Biden were both asked what they would do if elected and what their plans going forward are.

Trump said that there has never been a president who has done more for the people in three years, even with the two-year Russia scam and the many impeachment attempts. Trump also claimed that under his administration, America achieved the lowest unemployment rate, but he didn’t give concrete proof. So I’ll supply it: according to a study by WSJ Editorial Board on September 29, Hispanic net worth rose 63% and Black net worth rose 32%. Another study conducted by Fox Business analyst Stephen Moore showed that median household income also rose an average of $6,000 under Trump during his first three years. Trump also said that unity was happening but now, with the extreme left’s insane divisional tactics, we’re spiralling downward again. When polling the Veteran’s Association there was a 91% approval rating. Three  Supreme Court justices and 300 judge positions were filled under his administration as well after 128 slots were left open after Obama and Biden.

Biden instead took a more negative view, which is understandable seeing as his tactic–and mine as well if I were in his position–is displaying what an awful job Trump has done. Biden claimed that we’ve become weaker, sicker, poorer and more divided under Trump. Biden reminded the American people that he and Obama fixed the recession whereas Trump caused the current one we’re in. But, I must disagree with Biden here. Trump did not cause the recession; the coronavirus did. Biden continued by saying that Trump is Putin’s puppy, he never keeps his word, he’s made the billionaires wealthier whereas you–the American public–are in more trouble. He claimed that under the previous administration, there was 15% less violence than today and brought up the proven lie that Trump called veterans “losers.” 

But it’s getting boring to see the same tactics used by the left to deter people from voting for Trump. The American people want to hear about the issues that matter, not the ones we’ve debated time and time again.

Before I move on, I feel the need to put out a few disclaimers so that my stance on a few subjects that were not as heavily touched on are clear. One, this is my opinion that I am entitled to, but I understand it is not the opinion of others. Two, I believe that outrage is warranted in regard to the horrendous deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery and others. I think that justice is deserved and should be sought for these lives lost. But, three, I believe that if one wants to protest the awful deaths of these innocent people, they need to do so peacefully and without causing additional harm or deaths, which has become the norm. Violence is never the answer.

Now for my analysis.

I believe Trump acted extremely immaturely and all the facts I just presented should have been included in his answers. The economy, his big moment to shine, was a missed opportunity for expansion, as was the race issue where he could’ve presented the fact that he advocates for school choice and has lowered Black unemployment to a staggering rate.

I believe there was too much interrupting. Biden started it after the first question was answered by both men, but it obviously wasn’t only him. Trump had his embarrassing moments where he interrupted as well, making the whole debate a confusing game of, “Wait, what did he say?” Poor Chris Wallace; he was almost never in control of the debate.

I can’t and won’t name an overall winner. In regard to style, Biden won. He talked to the camera and connected physically with the American people. In regard to answering questions fully, displaying passion and strength, Trump won.

This debate barely brought any information about what each candidate will do if elected president. I think everyone can agree on that. But Biden brought lies that either couldn’t be backed up with proof, or had already been debunked. Additionally, Biden resorted to hateful nicknames. Now this isn’t saying that Trump didn’t attack him; he did attack Biden and his son. It’s me saying that neither one maintained composure. Neither one can be placed on a moral pedestal over the other. However, analyzing what each candidate said when interrupting, it definitely adds some interesting considerations. While Biden’s interruptions were focused on name-calling and repeating the phrase, “That’s not true,” Trump’s interruptions were more focused on asking some pretty valid questions that I know I would’ve liked to know the answer to. Again, I believe the interruptions were reckless and confusing, but they are still a part of the debate that can be looked at with more scrutiny and consideration.

I pose another question to the reader: what did Biden actually say? And even further, if you can find something that Biden proposed he would do moving forward, why hasn’t Biden already done it? He had 47 years after all to change the country. Trump has had three, and he’s had to deal with intense scrutiny and hatred through it all, and on top of that the coronavirus. 

To close out my opinion, I believe it comes down to deeply analyzing what each candidate is truly relaying to the American people. Clear and concise answers were hard to find throughout the debate, no one is disagreeing with that. But this allows room for the American people to do their own research. As I stated previously, I watch CNN and Fox News to get the two extremes and form my own ideas, in addition to my own research. I look at multiple sources, including government websites. I propose you do the same. I suggest looking at both candidates’ websites to find what they will actually do for the American people. In the end, factual information, however it is brought forth, will always outweigh emotional opinions. Sadly, facts were hard to come by in this debate, but I hope that in the following debates, if there are any, both candidates will act more maturely, give specific answers with examples and stop interrupting.