National Post (Latest Edition)

Trump, Bi­den ex­change in­sults in fiery de­bate

- Jar­rett Ren­shaw Steve Hol­land and US Elections · U.S. News · US Politics · Politics · Elections · Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · Donald Trump · Joe Biden · Cleveland · Republican Party (United States) · U.S. Supreme Court · Antonio Brown · United States of America · United States Senate · White House · Amy Coney Barrett · New York City · Beijing · Moscow · Chris Wallace · Case Western Reserve University · Ruth Bader Ginsburg · Hunter Biden

CLEVE­LAND • Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Demo­cratic ri­val Joe Bi­den bat­tled fiercely over Trump’s lead­er­ship on the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, the econ­omy and taxes in a fiery first de­bate on Tues­day.

With mod­er­a­tor Chris Wal­lace try­ing in vain at times to con­trol the de­bate, the two White House con­tenders talked over each other and lobbed in­sults in a po­lit­i­cal brawl that made it hard for ei­ther man to make a point.

“Will you shut up, man? This is so un­pres­i­den­tial,” said an ex­as­per­ated Bi­den after re­peated in­ter­rup­tions dur­ing only the first seg­ment of the de­bate on the Supreme Court.

Bi­den called Trump a “clown” and a “racist” and told him: “You’re the worst pres­i­dent Amer­ica has ever had.”

Trump for his part said: “There’s noth­ing smart about you, Joe.”

“I’ve done more in 47 months than you did in 47 years.”

Bi­den ques­tioned Trump’s lead­er­ship on the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, say­ing Trump had pan­icked and failed to pro­tect Amer­i­cans be­cause he was more con­cerned about the econ­omy.

“He pan­icked or he looked at the stock mar­ket,” Bi­den said of Trump, who has pushed for states to re­open their economies.

“A lot of peo­ple died and a lot more are go­ing to die un­less he gets a lot smarter, a lot quicker,” Bi­den said.

Trump ob­jected to Bi­den us­ing the word “smart.”

“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,” Trump said.

He de­fended his ap­proach on the pan­demic, which has killed more than 200,000 peo­ple in the United States and put mil­lions of Amer­i­cans out of work.

“We’ve done a great job,” Trump said. “But I tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job we’ve done. You don’t have it in your blood.”

With more than a mil­lion Amer­i­cans al­ready cast­ing early bal­lots and time run­ning out to change minds or in­flu­ence the sliver of un­de­cided vot­ers, the stakes were enor­mous as the two White House can­di­dates took the stage five weeks be­fore the Nov. 3 Elec­tion Day.

The two con­tenders did not shake hands as they en­tered the de­bate, ad­her­ing to pro­to­cols on so­cial dis­tanc­ing be­cause of the coro­n­avirus.

Bi­den, 77, has held a con­sis­tent lead over Trump, 74, in na­tional opin­ion polls, although sur­veys in the bat­tle­ground states that will de­cide the elec­tion show a closer con­test.

The 90- minute de­bate, with a lim­ited and so­cially dis­tanced in- per­son au­di­ence be­cause of the pan­demic, was held at Case Western Re­serve Univer­sity in Cleve­land. It was the first of three sched­uled pres­i­den­tial de­bates and one vice pres­i­den­tial de­bate.

Trump de­fended his ef­fort to swiftly fill a U. S. Supreme Court seat, say­ing “elec­tions have con­se­quences” and he had the right de­spite Demo­cratic ob­jec­tions.

“I will tell you very sim­ply we won the elec­tion, elec­tions have con­se­quences. We have the Se­nate and we have the White House and we have a phe­nom­e­nal nom­i­nee re­spected by all,” Trump said in de­fence of his nom­i­nee, con­ser­va­tive Judge Amy Coney Bar­rett.

Bi­den, talk­ing over fre­quent in­ter­rup­tions from Trump, said the seat of the late Ruth Bader Gins­burg should be filled after the elec­tion.

“We should wait, we should wait and see what

the out­come of this elec­tion is,” Bi­den said, adding a more con­ser­va­tive Supreme Court would en­dan­ger the Af­ford­able Care Act known as Oba­macare.

Hours be­fore the de­bate, Bi­den re­leased his 2019 tax re­turns and his cam­paign called on Trump, who has come un­der fire for not re­leas­ing his re­turns, to do the same.

Bi­den took the step two days after the New York Times re­ported Trump paid

just $ 750 in fed­eral in­come taxes in 2016 and 2017 — and none in 10 of the pre­vi­ous 15 years — fol­low­ing years of re­port­ing steep losses from busi­ness en­ter­prises.

Bi­den’s taxes showed that he and his wife Jill paid more than $ 346,000 in fed­eral taxes and other pay­ments for 2019 on an in­come of nearly $ 985,000 be­fore seek­ing a re­fund of nearly $ 47,000 they said they had over­paid the govern­ment.

“I paid mil­lions of dol­lars

in taxes, mil­lions of dol­lars of in­come tax,” Trump said.

A ques­tion about Trump’s eco­nomic record de­gen­er­ated into ar­gu­ing over China and the two can­di­dates’ fam­i­lies.

“You take a look at what he’s ac­tu­ally done. He’s done very lit­tle,” Bi­den said. “China’s per­fected the art of the steal.”

Trump used the crit­i­cism as an open­ing to at­tack Bi­den’s son Hunter Bi­den, de­mand­ing to know wheth

er he had taken “bil­lions of dol­lars” from China and al­leg­ing “the mayor of Moscow’s wife gave your son 3½ mil­lion dol­lars.”

Bi­den au­di­bly sighed. “That is not true,” he said. “It’s to­tally dis­cred­ited.”

Trump in­sisted the claim was only dis­cred­ited by the me­dia.

“It’s hard to get any word in with this clown,” Bi­den said. “His fam­ily, we could talk about all night.”

 ?? Brian Snyder / reuters ?? U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den go at it in their de­bate Tues­day night.
Brian Snyder / reuters U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den go at it in their de­bate Tues­day night.

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