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Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, clashed fiercely over Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, taxes and election fairness on Tuesday, in his first debate in chaos and saw Trump repeatedly boycott his opponent and exchange insults.
While broadcaster Chris Wallace sometimes tried unsuccessfully to dominate the debate, the competitors spoke simultaneously and exchanged insults in a spectacular political brawl that made it difficult for either man to make his point.
“Aren’t you shut up, man?” Biden said angrily after repeated interruptions during only the first part of the Supreme Court debate. This is completely non-presidential. ”
Biden described Trump as a “clown”, a “racist” and a “Putin puppy”, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and told him, “You are the worst president America has ever known.”
Trump replied, “There’s nothing smart about you, Joe.”
Later, Wallace himself urged the president to stop boycotting his rival.
“I think the country will be better served if we let the two people speak in fewer provinces,” Wallace said. I appeal to you, sir, to do so. ”
Trump replied, “Well, so do he.”
So Wallace said, “Well, honestly, you boycott more.”
Trump replied, “But he does it a lot.”
Biden strongly attacked Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, saying that Trump “panicked” and failed to protect Americans because he is more concerned with the economy.
“He panicked or looked at the stock market,” Biden said of Trump, who urged countries to reopen their economies and played down the threat of the epidemic.
“Many people died, and many more will die unless they become much smarter and much faster,” he added.
Trump objected to Biden’s use of the word “smart.”
“You graduate either the last or the last in your class,” Trump said. Never use the word intelligent with me. Never use this word. ”
Trump defended his handling of the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States and led to millions of Americans losing their jobs.
“We did an amazing job … but I tell you, Joe, you could never do the work that we did,” Trump said.
With more than a million Americans already casting their votes through early voting and running out of time to change opinions or influence a small segment of undecided voters, the debate between the two White House candidates carries great stakes five weeks before the November 3 election.
The two candidates did not shake hands at the beginning of the debate, in compliance with the rules of social distancing during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Biden, 77, has steadily led Trump, 74, in nationwide polls, even though polls in crucial states show the competition’s convergence.
The 90-minute debate is attended by a limited audience committed to social distancing due to the pandemic. The debate is taking place at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and moderated by broadcaster Chris Wallace of Fox News. This is the first of three scheduled debates.
Organizers said that about 80 people attended, including family members and guests of the candidates, two campaign staff, hosts, health and security officials and journalists.
Trump has previously refused to commit to the peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, and has repeated his unfounded claims that the mail vote will lead to fraud. Experts say tampering is extremely rare.
Trump said he expected the Supreme Court to decide on the election and “consider the ballot papers.”
He urged his supporters to go watch the polling process.
Biden urged Americans to devise a plan for the vote and assured voters that Trump would leave if Biden wins. He said he will not announce the win until the result is validated.
Trump defended his swift move to try to fill a seat on the US Supreme Court, saying that “the elections have consequences” and that he had the right despite Democrats’ objections.
“I’m going to tell you quite simply that we won the election, and the elections have consequences,” Trump said, defending his conservative candidate, Judge Amy Connie Barrett. We have the Senate, we have the White House, and we have an exceptional candidate that everyone respects. ”
But Biden said the seat of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be filled after the November 3 election, when it becomes clear who the president will be.
“We have to wait, we have to wait and see the outcome of these elections,” Biden said, adding that a higher court that includes more conservatives will endanger the affordable healthcare law known as “Obama Care”.
Trump is moving quickly to fill the Ginsburg seat, hoping to consolidate the conservative majority on the court.
Trump interrupted Biden repeatedly while trying to answer the questions, prompting Biden to intervene, saying, “Don’t you shut up, man?”
Trump and Biden are discussing a host of pressing political challenges, including the pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 in the United States and led to millions of job losses, as well as protests for racial justice and the battle over the Supreme Court.
Hours before the debate, Biden published his 2019 tax returns and his campaign called on Trump to do the same.
Biden took the move two days after the New York Times announced that Trump paid only $ 750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, after reporting for years that his companies suffered heavy losses.
Trump has not paid income taxes in ten of the last 15 years. Trump has long sought to keep his personal financial records secret.
Biden’s tax returns showed that he and wife Jill paid more than $ 346,000 in federal taxes and other payments for 2019 on nearly $ 985,000 in income before seeking to recover the nearly $ 47,000 they said they had paid more than they should have paid.
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