The first presidential debate of the 2020 cycle went down on Tuesday between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. With the first debate four years ago breaking 86 million viewers, Tuesday’s debate could top that number. It is said that the first 30 minutes of the first debate is the most crucial time for each candidate since the audience starts to tune out after that point. Tonight’s debate did not disappoint in terms of an opening bang, but it may have disappointed by losing any discernable discussion in favor of candidates, and the moderator, talking over one another.
First 2020 Presidential Debate
Candidates: President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden
Air Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Location: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Moderator: Chris Wallace, Fox News Host
Full Debate Video
Here is the complete video of the first presidential debate. The debate lasted just over 90 minutes split into six segments that seemed to overlap and bleed into each other throughout the night.
The first 15 minutes of the matchup started with a bang and didn’t stop exploding. President Trump, as expected, was out of the gate fast and hard against any and all attacks from former Vice President Biden. Biden, for his part, remained rather calm, but did become visibly angered at times. At one point, Biden literally told the President to “shut up, man,” and extraordinary occurrence during a presidential debate. It was clear that neither man has much respect for the other.
As for the topics, Biden was on point and clearly well prepared. Days ago, we suggested that Biden would beat expectations, if in fact merely because the bar was set so low. Biden did what he needed to do in terms of shaking off attacks over his mental abilities or shortcomings due to age. His answers were not always perfect, tripping up words here and there, but nothing egregious that will become a headline.
President Trump was ready with many lines of his own including the bit about doing more in 47 months than Biden has done in 47 years. The President eventually calmed down from the opening and was able to make some strong points and strong rebuttals to attacks on his record from Biden. Trump continually pointed out Biden’s attempts to join up with the left-wing of the Democratic Party on health care and the green new deal, both topics Biden was forced to distance himself from. At one point, responding on healthcare, Biden said, “I’m the Democratic Party right now,” meaning that Biden, not Sanders, will be in charge of crafting policy. How this plays among progressives will be born out in the coming days.
As for Chris Wallace as moderator, he was far less invisible than he intended to be. There seemed to be three men debating most of the night with Wallace scolding the President for interrupting Biden during numerous answers. Biden interrupted somewhat as well, but not as much as Trump.
Whether this debate does much to move minds or alter the race remains to be seen. The President does not back down and he proved it tonight, and that posture can’t hurt his chances in November. On the other hand, Biden came with an agenda and he pushed the ball down the field.
The second Presidential Debate is set for October 15. Before that, Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence will meet for the vice presidential debate on October 7.