Thursday, December 2, 2021

1st presidential debate recap with analysis and fact-check

October 2, 2020
<p>Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally for Democratic congressional candidate Elissa Slotkin on Nov. 1, 2018 (left) and President Donald Trump gives remarks at Dana Incorporated in Warren, MI on Jan. 30, 2020 (right).</p>

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally for Democratic congressional candidate Elissa Slotkin on Nov. 1, 2018 (left) and President Donald Trump gives remarks at Dana Incorporated in Warren, MI on Jan. 30, 2020 (right).

Photo by State News File Photo | The State News

Marked by frequent interruptions and high tempers, the first presidential debate covered topics from the Supreme Court nomination to race and police in America. President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. faced off in the first of three scheduled debates ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The debate was held in Cleveland, Ohio Tuesday night and lasted about a total of 90 minutes. Fox News host Chris Wallace moderated the debate and struggled to keep the two candidates from interrupting each other all night and to answer the questions in their respective time slots.

In a tweet early Friday morning, the president revealed he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19.

The State News analyzed some of the main topics discussed in the debate and fact-checked some of the claims made by both President Trump and Joe Biden. 

The Supreme Court nominee

The debate kicked off with a discussion of the vacancy on the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ginsburg on Sept. 26 and received criticism from Democratic leaders like House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for its proximity to the election. 

At the debate, Trump said Barrett is “good in every way."

“I think that she will be outstanding,” Trump said. “She's going to be as good as anybody that has served on that court.”

In response to widespread criticism from Democrats, Trump said during the debate that the Democrats would do the same thing. He referred to Ginsburg's 2016 quote about "Senators refusing to vote on President Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court should recognize that a president is elected for four years not three," to back up his power to nominate a supreme court justice so close to an election.

While Biden claimed he is “not opposed” to Barrett’s nomination, he said people should have a right to have a say in their government, and they do so by voting in elections. 

“We should wait and see what the outcome of this election is,” Biden said. “The only way the American people get to express their view is by who they elect as president.”

Biden additionally addressed uncertainty for the futures of the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade if Barrett were confirmed.

COVID-19 response and recovery

The candidates sparred over the federal government’s response to COVID-19 after the president made the assertion of being “weeks away” from a vaccine for the virus.

Biden claimed, however, that even if a vaccine is made, it would not be available for distribution until the beginning or middle of 2021.

In a February White House press conference, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "Although this is the fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus to a trial, it still would not be applicable to the epidemic unless we really wait about a year to a year and a half.”

Biden also criticized what he claimed was Trump’s lack of a plan in facing the pandemic and addressed the need for dealing with coronavirus before the economy. 

“You can't fix the economy until you fix the COVID crisis, and he has no intention of doing anything about making it better for you all at home, in terms of your health and your safety,” Biden said.

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In response, Trump said many more deaths would have occurred if Biden was the current president.

"If you were here, it wouldn’t be 200, it would be 2 million people because you were very late on the draw," Trump said. "You didn’t want me to ban China, which was heavily infected."

Biden was not immediate in his decision to enact a travel ban on China, but he supported the decision to increase travel restrictions. In addition, the AP news reported that 27,000 Americans returned from mainland China in the first month after the restrictions took effect and that 1,600 of them were not monitored for exposure to the virus.

Trump called for the loosening of “tough shutdowns” some governors have enforced in their states to mitigate the spread of COVD-19. 

“People know what to do,” Trump said. “They can social distance, they can wash their hands, they can wear masks — they can do whatever they want, but they can open these states up.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been a target of Trump since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic when she enacted several stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols. 

In a tweet, Whitmer shared criticism of Trump’s performance in the debate. 

“Tonight's debate made it abundantly clear that President Trump doesn't share the values of Michigan's working families when it comes to protecting our health care,” she said in the tweet

Taxes and the economy

The next topic discussed in the debate was the state of the economy.

An investigation done by the New York Times found that Trump only paid $750 in taxes during the year of 2017. After Chris Wallace asked directly, the President said he paid "millions of dollars" in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

Trump is yet to release his tax returns for the said years.

In comparison, Biden paid almost $300,000 in federal income tax in 2019 after he released his tax returns.

In terms of economy and automobile, Biden said he brought the automobile industry back in Michigan and Ohio while Trump "blew it."

"Ohio had the best year it's ever had last year, Michigan had the best year they've ever had," Trump said in response to Biden's claims. 

Michigan’s economy has been slowing down since 2019 after ten years of growth after the recession, according to Bridge Michigan reports. In addition, from the 4th quarter of 2019 to the 1st quarter of 2020, Michigan was the only state in which personal income decreased.

Biden accused Trump of being the first President to lose jobs while being in office. Although if the current rate continues Trump will be the only president besides Herbert Hoover, who was in office at the onset of the Great Depression, to lose jobs while in office.

Race and protests

Days after no officers involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor were charged with homicide and the nationwide 'Black Lives Matter' protests that ignited in the wake of George Floyd's death, the candidates sparred over the issues relating to race, policing and protests.

Trump claimed violent protests erupted in several big cities because Democratic leaders who run the cities “don’t want to talk … about law and order.”

According to the reports by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), more than 93% of the Black Lives Matter protests between May 26 and Aug. 22 have been peaceful.

Biden, who said he favors law and order “with justice where people get treated fairly," said there is systemic injustice in education and law enforcement. Biden additionally condemned violence on both sides, deeming it “never appropriate.”

When Trump was asked to condemn white supremacist violence, he instead told the white supremacist and neo-fascist group The Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing, deemed Trump’s refusal to speak out against the violence “one of the lowest points in the history of the presidency.”

“Twice tonight, the president of the United States was given an opportunity to speak out against violence — first to condemn white supremacists and violent extremists like the Proud Boys, and then to discourage election-related violence from his supporters,” Slotkin said in a tweet. “Both times, the president refused to do so.”

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